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20 March 2017, 11:15 | Darnell Patrick
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said the Prime Minister is 'embarking on an extreme and divisive Brexit'
"The EU's permanent representative to the EU informed the office of Donald Tusk that it's the UK's intention to trigger Article 50 on March 29", a spokesperson for Prime Minister Theresa May said.
More than 40 years after the United Kingdom joined the EU and nine months since it voted to quit it, Britain's envoy to the bloc, Tim Barrow, informed EU President Donald Tusk on Monday, March 20 of her plan to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the mechanism for quitting that has never been used.
The move comes nine months after Britain voted 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent in favour of Brexit in a referendum on 23 June, 2016.
Formal talks between Britain and the EU must then wait for member states to approve more detailed negotiating rules and give an official mandate to European Commission Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, officials said.
"We wish the talks to begin promptly, but we fully respect that the 27 (other European Union nations) will want to agree their position in advance", the spokesman said. The Government will want due recognition of Ireland's priorities in the initial negotiating position.
Britain said on Monday (Mar 20) it will launch the process of leaving the European Union on Mar 29, setting a historic and uncharted course to become the first country to withdraw from the bloc by March 2019.
Article 50 allows for two years of talks to decide an EU member state's divorce terms, "taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union".
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Meanwhile, Downing Street denied reports suggesting that ministers were considering a snap election after triggering Article 50.
European leaders have also been clear that Britain cannot get a better deal outside the EU than it had inside, amid fears that Brexit could cause other nations to leave the bloc. Her first stop was Wales, and she was also expected to visit sites in Scotland, Northern Ireland and England in the coming days. The issues of an exit bill - with some suggesting the United Kingdom might need to pay up to €60bn (£51bn) - and of the fate of European Union citizens in Britain and British citizens on the continent will also be crucial.
The developments come as an independent think tank warned today that up to 15 new bills could be needed to deliver Brexit.
"It will be a challenge for both the government and Parliament to do all this while still ensuring full scrutiny and leaving room for the government's domestic policy agenda".
The call would take advantage of polls showing May's Tories well ahead of the opposition Labour Party, which has been beset by internal strife under left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn.
"She has chosen the hardest and most divisive form of Brexit, choosing to take us out of the Single Market before she has even tried to negotiate".
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