Article 50 Will Be Triggered on 29 March, Government Confirms

Monday's announcement means the date of the UK's final exit from the European Union is highly likely to be 29 March 2019.

Then comes the hard part - the arguments, the lawyers, the squabbles over money.

May has already conceded Britain will have to quit the single market for goods and services - accounting for about 44 percent of its exports - to avoid being bound by European court rulings and the free movement of migrants.

The referendum exposed geographical and social divisions in Britain.

Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis said: "Last June, the people of the United Kingdom made the historic decision to leave the EU". May will also announce the news in Parliament. But many outsiders may be left scratching their head, so here's a WorldViews guide to Article 50 for those catching up. What happens next is up to the EU.

EU Commission chief spokesman Margaritis Schinas told reporters at a briefing in Brussels that eurocrats were ready to begin talks "immediately" and that they had a comprehensive plan in place.

The PM's spokesman stressed today that the European Union had promised to give its initial response within 48 hours of the move.

Mrs May will meet First Minister Carwyn Jones as well as leaders in business and other areas, and will be accompanied by Brexit Secretary David Davis and Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns. Another hiccup could be Germany's September election, which will determine whether Chancellor Angela Merkel gets another term.

Both sides would like the early resolution of the status of more than three million Europeans living in Britain, and more than one million Britons living elsewhere in the EU.

Once the EU-27 guidelines have been drawn up, no doubt with an overarching political message, the negotiating mandate will formally be handed to the EU Commission's chosen negotiator, French diplomat Michel Barnier. He'll receive direction from the Council, which represents the leaders of the member states.

Talks on departing the prosperous club Britain joined in 1973 are likely to be the most complex London has held since World War Two.

British negotiators are sure to quibble over the size of that tab.

Hitherto, the European Union has presented a united front on Brexit, but it will quickly become clear that numerous negotiating topics and red lines are unique to individual states; things will become more granular, complicated and divided.

The British Parliament could be burdened with scrutinising up to 15 new bills for Britain's exit from the European Union (EU), a new report has warned.

The divorce process under Article 50 gives a two-year framework for negotiations.

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