Prime Minister Theresa May has triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to begin a two-year period of negotiations for the UK to formerly leave the European Union.

Britain’s ambassador to the EU, Sir Tom Barrow, hand-delivered the letter to the European Council, and marked the start of the journey for the UK to leave the EU after 44 years for partnership.

The move comes nine months after the UK voted to the EU 51.9% to 48.1% in a historic referendum on 23 June 2016.

In a statement to the Commons, May told MPs that today is a “moment for the country to come together”, but on the ground the country remains bitterly divided. Opinion polls show an even split between people supporting Brexit those wishing to remain within the EU, with few changing sides since the vote last year.

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, will make a statement in response to May’s letter, and there will also be responses from the remaining 27 EU member states.

Brexit Timetable

2017

  • March 29 – Article 50 triggered
  • March 30 – Great Repeal Bill published
  • March 31 – Donald Tusk publishes Brexit negotiation guidelines
  • April 29 – EU members adopt negotiation guideliness at EU summit
  • May/June – Face-to-face talks begin between UK and EU
  • July-December – Great Repeal Bill undergoes parliamentary scrutiny

2018

  • Jan-March – Great Repeal Bill likely to receive royal assent
  • September 30 – Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier plans to wrap up terms of UK exit

2019

  • UK House of Commons and House of Lords vote on terms of Brexit deal
  • European Council and European Parliament vote on terms of Brexit deal
  • March 30 – UK could leave EU under negotiated terms, or leave on WTO rules without deal, or possibly remain within EU
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