Britain to trigger Brexit on March 29 - spokesman

William James and Gabriela Baczynska, Reuters

Posted at Mar 20 2017 09:00 PM

A demonstrator wears a European Union themed T-shirt during a protest in favor of amendments to the Brexit Bill outside the Houses of Parliament, in London, Britain, March 13, 2017. Neil Hall, Reuters

LONDON/BRUSSELS - British 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.

"Last June, the people of the UK 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.

The move 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 UK and indeed for all of Europe – a new, positive partnership between the UK and our friends and allies in the European Union." 

The European Commission meanwhile said it is ready to begin Brexit negotiations.

"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.

(Reporting by William James, editing by Guy Faulconbridge)