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Article 50 to be triggered next week

Article 50 to be triggered next week

Brexit Minister David Davis said the withdrawal process will take Britain to "the threshold of the most important negotiation for this country for a generation".

After 40 weeks of topsy-turvy politics since the referendum vote last June, Prime Minister Theresa May will pull the trigger by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

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.

The European Commission said it was ready to begin the negotiations.

Responding to Mr Juncker's comments, Mrs May's official spokesman said: "We have said many times we are at the start of negotiations and let's see how it unfolds". But May was not able to trigger the talks until last week, when the British Parliament approved a bill authorizing the start of Brexit negotiations.

But like any divorce, things may not go to plan.

He said that "everything is ready on this side", and that the EU's executive arm stands ready to play its role once the letter of notification is actually sent. Those things have become part of life in the United Kingdom since it joined what was then called the European Economic Community in 1973.

At the same time, May faces threats by Scottish nationalists to call a new independence referendum that could break up the United Kingdom.

"Scotland is at a hugely important crossroads and we can not be in a position where we drift for the next two years without as much as a clue as to the impact leaving the European Union will have".

The EU's next attempt to maximise its leverage will be through its guidelines for Brexit, which lay out the bloc's priorities for talks.

"Yet it is only a week since Nicola Sturgeon announced her plans for an unwanted divisive second referendum out of the blue with no prior notice to anyone".

May has said she wants to make Brexit as painless as possible.

Dr Hannah White, IFG's director of research, said: "The legislation required for Brexit will leave little parliamentary time for anything else - and making a success of it will require a large volume of bills and secondary legislation to be passed by Parliament against a hard deadline".

"However, in the quiet data period ahead, that seems like less of a risk than normal, in no small part because Brexit-related uncertainty is unlikely to decline significantly anytime soon". The first potentially contentious issue on the agenda will be the price Britain must pay to "buy itself out" of existing European Union commitments.

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

The Prime Minister is attempting to reach out in order to address criticisms that she is not paying proper attention to different administrations.

Sapin says he hopes the negotiations between Britain and the European Union "can be done in a constructive manner, by both sides". Few, if any, have held out the prospect of a sweet deal for Britain. It is then likely to be some years thereafter before it has finalised a trade deal with the European Union, if indeed it is able to do so.

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