LONDON (AFP) – British Prime Minister Theresa May kept up the suspense on Tuesday (March 14) over when she would trigger Brexit, saying she would have the power to do so within days and it would happen by the end of March.
After weeks of debate, parliament on Monday approved a bill empowering Mrs May to trigger Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, which would start a two-year countdown to Britain’s departure from the bloc.
Addressing MPs, Mrs May said the bill could now receive formal assent from Queen Elizabeth II “in the coming days” – a process that would leave the prime minister free to start Brexit.
“We remain on track with the timetable I set out six months ago,” Mrs May said, referring to her promise to trigger Article 50 by the end of March.
“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 will be a defining moment for our whole country.”
Opposition Labour MPs jeered the prime minister as she gave an update on last week’s EU summit – particularly when she recounted how she had urged the other EU leaders to complete Europe’s single market, which Britain will be leaving.
Her promise to consult all Britain’s devolved nations in the Brexit negotiations drew particularly loud laughter, the day after Scotland’s governing nationalists launched a fresh bid for independence.
The British government has said a second referendum is unnecessary, less than three years after Scots rejected independence in a first vote, and Mrs May said Tuesday that “this is not a moment to play politics”.