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The countdown begins: Britain to start European Union exit on March 29

21 March 2017, 12:08 | Darnell Patrick

The countdown begins: Britain to start European Union exit on March 29

UK Prime Minister Theresa May

European Council President Donald Tusk hopes the EU and the United Kingdom will remain "close partners in the future".

She will be accompanied by Brexit Secretary David Davis and Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns, and will meet First Minister Carwyn Jones as well as leaders in business and other sectors.

The move will begin a two-year negotiating period in which the British government and the European Union 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.

The European Commission is expected to provide an initial answer to Britain's Article 50 notification within 48 hours but negotiations are not expected to start for several weeks or even months.

French diplomat Michel Barnier is the chief negotiator for the European Commission, the bloc's executive arm.

By the end of next week, after he has received PM May's letter, European Council President Donald Tusk should have distributed draft guidelines for the negotiations to the 27 other national governments.

Her latest visit was in the driving rain of Swansea Bay as she bookends her pre-article 50 period in Downing Street with another series of visits to the devolved nations of the UK. May received permission from the Parliament Houses last week to begin the negotiations.

"This Government's Plan for Britain will seek to deliver a stronger, fairer United Kingdom and a better deal for ordinary working people in Wales and across the nation".

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Britain's ambassador to the EU, Tim Barrow, will also play a major role, and the Foreign Office will talk to individual member states to try to get them on its side. We don't know if other European Union countries would agree to Britain going back to renegotiate the deal.

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon wants a referendum before a final Brexit deal is sealed with Brussels.

May lashed out at Sturgeon's announcement, countering that right "now is not the time" for Scotland to take a vote.

An EU spokesman said it was "ready and waiting" for the letter.

We assumed that there would be a deal on preserving the existing rights for EU living in Britain, and British citizens living in the EU and that Britain and the EU would continue to co-operate on security matters. For those who would like Britain to stay after all, the 27% unsure of what they would favour in those circumstances does hint that opinion might change if negotiations go badly enough.

Negotiations will also soon hit a fundamental topic: Britain wants "frictionless" free trade, but says it will restore controls over immigration, ending the right of European Union citizens to live and work in Britain.

The changes would have forced Mrs May to ensure the rights of European Union citizens were guaranteed after we leave the bloc, and for a "meaningful" vote on a final deal.



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