Theresa May to trigger Article 50 on 29 March
Theresa May will begin the Brexit process on 29 March, Downing St confirmed this morning.
The announcement from the Prime Minister's official spokesman comes after the Queen gave royal assent to the Government's Brexit bill last week.
Despite some opposition in the Lords and among pro-European MPs, the legislation giving Mrs May the power to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty went through Parliament completely unamended.
That means she can stick to the timetable she outlined in her Lancaster House speech of kickstarting the Brexit process before the end of this month.
"We have always been clear that we would trigger by the end of March and we have met that timetable," the spokesman told reporters this morning.
"After the trigger, the 27 will agree their guidelines for negotiations and the Commission's negotiating mandate."
Mrs May and Brexit Secretary David Davis will then begin negotiations with the 27 remaining EU countries and the bloc's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier.
The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, is expected to offer an initial response within 48 hours.
"We want negotiations to start promptly, but it's also right that the 27 have time to agree their position," the No 10 spokesman said.
Among the items Mrs May has said she wants to resolve early on in the talks is the status of EU nationals already living in the UK and British nationals resident on the continent.
The size of the so-called exit bill for the UK, which some have claimed could be up to 60bn euros, is also likely to be on the agenda.
The news comes as a thinktank warned the Government faces a "huge burden" of passing around 15 laws relating to Brexit.
The Institute for Government said the average Queen's Speech has just 20 new bills, meaning ministers will have to "ruthlessly prioritise" what they want to get through the House of Commons.
Along with the proposed Great Repeal Bill, the Government faces a "huge burden" of legislation on areas such as the UK's post-Brexit immigration and customs systems.