Brexit process will officially start next week

The Prime Minister is carrying out talks in the devolved nations ahead of her promise to trigger Article 50 and formally start the process of withdrawing from the European Union by the end of the month.

Theresa May first came to Wales in the baking hot sun in Cardiff Bay last summer, a short time after she became Prime Minister.

Once Britain has delivered its Article 50 letter to European Council President Donald Tusk in Brussels, EU leaders are expected to reply with their own letter setting out the bloc's negotiating stance.

Responding to the announcement, Tusk said he will present the draft Brexit guidelines to the EU27 member states within 48 hours of the United Kingdom triggering Article 50.

Margaritis Schinas, the European Commission's chief spokesman, said: "We are ready to begin negotiations".

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. The spokesman said the United Kingdom government remained "confident" that the process could be concluded within the two-year timeframe, meaning that the United Kingdom would formally leave the European Union by the end of March 2019 - ending 46 years of membership.

The British Supreme Court started hearing the historic Brexit legal case on the day to decide whether the British government can begin the process to pull Britain out of the European Union (EU) without a parliament approval.

There's also likely to be friction over Britain's desire to maintain free trade in goods and services with the bloc, without accepting the EU's core principle of free movement of workers.

Due to trigger Article 50, her office has said May will be visiting Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to hear the government's differing views on Brexit.

However, Nicola Sturgeon's demand for a second independence referendum in Scotland last week - coupled with the delay in getting the Article 50 bill through the House of Lords - limited the government's choices.

Of the United Kingdom's four nations, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay in the European Union in the June 23 vote while England and Wales voted to leave.

May has sharply criticized that call, and said over the weekend that "now is not the time" for a Scottish vote.

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

But May has repeatedly ruled out an early vote, and on Monday her spokesman told British journalists that there was "not going to be one".

  • Leroy Wright