British PM to trigger Brexit by end of March

Britain will invoke Article 50 by the end of March next year which will see the beginning of two years of difficult exit negotiations with the European Union.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May's walks off stage after speaking at the annual Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, Britain, October 2, 2016

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she will be triggering the process to leave the European Union (EU) by the end of March.

The announcement was made at the Conservative Party’s annual conference on Sunday. 

The deadline to trigger leaving the trading bloc comes after Britain voted to leave the EU in June, propelling May to power to take up the reins to guide Britain through one of the most complex deals since World War Two. 

"We will invoke Article 50 no later than the end of March next year," May told the party’s annual conference in Birmingham, Central England.

Using Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty will plunge Europe's second largest economy into two years of painful horse trading with its EU partners, who have voiced deep frustration at the delay in setting a date to start divorce proceedings.

Her comments were welcomed by the EU, with Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, saying the statement had brought "welcome clarity" to the situation. 

May's announcement means the process will start before next year's crucial elections in Germany and France, with an uncertain impact on the polls in the EU's most powerful nations.

European powers keen to dampen rising euroscepticism in their own backyards have taken a hard line with Britain, warning that informal negotiations cannot start before the two-year notification process is triggered.

Great Repeal Bill 

May also announced that a "Great Repeal Bill" would be introduced to scrap the supremacy of EU laws in Britain on the day of exit from the bloc.

Some members of her Conservative Party said that the bill is little more than a technicality, but many others said it was the first step for Britain to reclaim power and dispense with some EU regulation.

It was May's firmest commitment to a clear break with the EU since she became Conservative Party leader and premier in the political upheaval that followed June's Brexit referendum.

TRTWorld and agencies