Prime Minister Theresa May said Tuesday she would be given the power to start Brexit talks within days but declined to name a date for a process already disrupted by Scotland’s independence bid.
After speculation in Brussels and at home that she would start the withdrawal process this week, May told the House of Commons that she would fulfill her promise to do it by the end of March.
Parliament late Monday approved a bill empowering the government to trigger Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, starting a two-year countdown to Britain’s departure.
May said the bill would receive formal assent from Queen Elizabeth II “in the coming days” — leaving the prime minister free to start Brexit at any time.
“I will return to this House before the end of this month to notify when I have formally triggered Article 50 and begun the process through which the United Kingdom will leave the European Union,” she said.
This would put Britain on course to become the first country to leave the 28-member bloc by March 2019.
“I don’t know the date when the letter will arrive, but what I know is that we are ready,” European Commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein said.