U.K. PM Theresa May Announces Article 50 Trigger Date and Official Start of Brexit

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Prime Minister Theresa May will trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the formal notification of the United Kingdom's intention to leave the European Union, on March 29, a spokesman for the British leader said on Monday.

The United Kingdom has informed European Council President Donald Tusk's office of May's intention, May's spokesman said, confirming an earlier Reuters report from Brussels.

"Last June, the people of the U.K. made the historic decision to leave the EU. Next Wednesday, the government will deliver on that decision and formally start the process by triggering Article 50," Brexit minister David Davis said in a statement.

A spokesman for the European Commission said it is ready to begin Brexit negotiations on Britain's withdrawal from the European Union. "Everything is ready on this side," Margaritis Schinas, the chief spokesman for the EU executive, told a regular news briefing. He noted that negotiations would begin once other EU states had met to confirm the Commission's negotiating mandate.

European Council President Donald Tusk said he would present the other 27 European Union states with draft Brexit negotiating guidelines within 48 hours from the moment Britain formally triggers its exit from the bloc.

When May triggers article 50 will begin a two-year negotiating period in which the British government and the EU hope to agree on the terms of Britain's exit and reach a separate deal on the shape of their future relationship, most importantly on the terms of trade between the two.

"We are on the threshold of the most important negotiation for this country for a generation," Davis said. "The government is clear in its aims: a deal that works for every nation and region of the U.K. and indeed for all of Europe—a new, positive partnership between the U.K. and our friends and allies in the European Union."

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