LONDON, Oct. 2 (UPI) — Prime Minister Theresa May plans to begin Britain’s withdrawal process from the European Union, known as Brexit, by March.
The triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is a formal process that takes two years of talks. Previously, she had committed to not invoking Article 50 this year. May told BBC on Sunday she’ll introduce a bill next year to convert all EU laws into U.K. legislation when Brexit is completed.
“I will be saying in my speech today that we will trigger before the end of March next year,” May told BBC Television‘s Andrew Marr Show before the start of her Conservative Party’s annual conference in Birmingham, central England.
It’s been 101 days since the U.K.’s June 23 decision to leave the EU in a 52 percent to 48 percent vote. It’s been 46 years since the country joined the bloc.
May said the process would be “quite complex” but noted, “It’s not just important for the U.K., but important for Europe as a whole that we’re able to do this in the best possible way so we have the least disruption for businesses, and when we leave the EU we have a smooth transition from the EU.”
“It’s important that we give some certainty about the process,” he said. “Today’s announcements are a staging post on the route towards triggering Article 50 and towards holding the negotiations.”
Grayling also said there would be a “sensible” agreement between the U.K. and EU that allows trade to continue.
Also on the show, former Business Minister Anna Soubry, who left her post when May became premier and opposed Brexit, said “triggering Brexit as early as March really concerns me … troubles me hugely.
“This idea that we hold the cards and that the EU is going to come to us and say ‘you know what, we’ll give you pretty much what you want’…is rubbish.
“We’re going to get something worse…and we don’t hold the cards the EU does,” she said.
Trade Secretary Liam Fox also was uncertain about the timetable.
“What we want is the best exit for the United Kingdom, not the quickest,” he said at an event in Birmingham before the start of the Conservative Party conference. “I wouldn’t put a timescale on it. Again, I think that’s one of the cards we have in our negotiation. Why would we want to hand it over at the outset?”
European Council President Donald Tusk said on Twitter the Article 50 announcement “brings welcome clarity on start of Brexit talks. Once Art. 50’s triggered, EU27 will engage to safeguard its interests.”