Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has announced that she will trigger Article 50 on 29 March 2017, thereby beginning the UK’s formal two year process to leave the European Union. It is understood that Sir Tim Barrow, Britain’s ambassador to the EU, informed the office of European Council president, Donald Tusk, this morning of the Prime Minister’s plans. The news comes amid warnings that the Brexit negotiations will take up significant amounts of time in Parliament, making it difficult for MPs to pass legislation on other important issues. The Institute for Government (IFG) estimates that up to 15 new parliamentary bills will need to be passed by Westminster over the next two years – “the estimates we have heard are something between 10 and 15 bills required in the next two parliamentary sessions. Normally, there are about 20 in a Queen’s Speech. So, that’s roughly the capacity that there is in government to draft these bills and, in terms of parliamentary time, to pass them – that takes a big chunk out of the government’s capacity to legislate. And its other priorities, its domestic priorities, will take a hit in the next couple of sessions”. Mrs. May will trigger the Brexit process by writing a letter to President Tusk on 29 March and will also deliver a statement to Parliament. Commenting on these plans, Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat leader, said “Theresa May is embarking on an extreme and divisive Brexit. She has rushed this through without a plan, and without a clue. She has chosen the hardest and most divisive form of Brexit, choosing to take us out of the single market before she has even tried to negotiate. That’s why we believe the people should have the final say over the Conservative Brexit deal.” Sterling fell after the Prime Minister’s announcement, with traders unsettled by the terms of any future deal. The GB Pound, which had risen against the US Dollar to a three-week high of $1.243, dropped to $1.237. It also fell against the Euro to €1.151.
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