UK to trigger article 50 on 29 March, but faces delay on start of talks
Theresa May has informed the European council that she will trigger article 50 on Wednesday 29 March, but European sources have made clear that Britain could be forced to wait until June to embark on formal talks.
The president of the European council, Donald Tusk, responded quickly to say that he would distribute his response to the British government within 48 hours of next Wednesday. But sources made clear that it would take “four to six weeks” for the other 27 countries in the EU to reach consensus and start the more formal process.
The prime minister’s chosen date shortens an already tight timeframe in which the British government hopes to both agree on the terms of withdrawal, including its financial liabilities, and successfully negotiate a “comprehensive free trade deal” with the EU.
The EU had hoped to offer a substantive political response to Britain at a summit pencilled in for the 6-7 April, but the notification date announced by Downing Street does not now make that possible, EU sources said.
There's a march in London about this on Saturday. But will Theresa et al listen? For some reason, they seem to think that all voters are hard-Brexiters, forgetting that (a) nearly half voted against; (b) not all Leave voters wanted this ultra-hard Brexit, and indeed some of the Leave leaders assured us that we'd be staying in the single market.