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British PM Theresa May signs letter to trigger Brexit from EU

The countdown to Britain's exit from the European Union began on 30 March 2017 after the UK's ambassador to the economic bloc delivered Theresa May's letter to the European Council in Brussels.

Mar 30, 2017 09:30 IST
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Brexit countdown begins, Brexit countdown beginsBritish Prime Minister Theresa May on 28 March 2017 signed the letter that will trigger Britain's exit from the European Union (EU). The formal notification that seeks to leave EU was signed by May at 10 Downing Street office.

The letter is an official notification to other 27 European Union members that Britain has invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. This letter was delivered to European Council President Donald Tusk by British ambassador to the EU Sir Tim Barrow on 29 March 2017.

Percentage of referendum votes, Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty

Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty that was invoked with the sign provides both sides a time-limit of two years to reach an agreement.

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This means, the letter also sets the clock for a two-year negotiation process for Britain's relationship with the EU as a non-member. Unless that time-frame is extended, Britain will have to leave the economic bloc by 29 March 2019.

After signing the letter, the Prime Minster chaired a cabinet meeting before making a statement in the House of Commons confirming the countdown to the UK's departure from the EU has begun.

The signed letter is a follow-up step of the 23 June 2016 referendum which resulted in a vote to leave the European Union. In short, the notification of Article 50 marks the first formal step in the direction of Brexit after the June referendum in favour of Britain leaving the EU.

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Timeline for Brexit

29 March 2017: Article 50 was triggered

30 March 2017: Great Repeal Bill was published. The bill aims at converting EU law into domestic legislation and repeal the European Communities Act.

31 March 2017: negotiation guidelines will be published by Donald Tusk, the President of the European Union

29 April 2017: EU summit, where remaining members of the European Council will adopt negotiation guidelines

Spring 2017: Great Repeal Bill will be announced at the opening of the Parliament

May/June 2017: Face to face talks will start

Late 2017: The Great Repeal Bill will go through stages of parliamentary scrutiny

December 2017: Michel Barnier, the EU chief negotiator, will expect initial discussions to conclude

Early 2018: The Great Repeal Bill will receive royal assent

Mid 2018: Parliament will have to pass certain laws that will help in covering gaps (if any) in the legislation

30 September 2018: Michel Barnier will wrap up the Brexit terms

End of 2018 or start of 2019: Both houses of Parliament along with European council and Parliament will have a vote on the deal

March 2019: The negotiation period of two years comes to an end and with this end UK will leave the Union with or without any agreement.

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*Timeline is based on reports

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