Notice under Article 50 to be given on 29 March 2017

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister has confirmed that Mrs May will give notice under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty of the UK's intention to leave the EU on 29 March. It is understood that notification will be given by letter to the European Council and Mrs May is then expected to make a statement to the House of Commons.

The spokesperson also confirmed that the European Council, headed by President Donald Tusk, has been told of the date when Article 50 will be triggered. In response, President Tusk has said that within 48 hours of the UK triggering Article 50, he will present draft Brexit guidelines to the EU27 Member States. Mr Tusk has now said that he expects to call an extraordinary summit of the 27 other Member States on 29 April, to draw up a mandate for the European Commission's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier. Mr Tusk said that the priority must be certainty and clarity for citizens, companies and Member States.

There has again been speculation that any negotiation would focus first on the broad principles of any ‘exit’ payment the EU might demand in respect of commitments that the UK has already signed up to, along with the principles for the rights of EU citizens in the UK and vice versa.

The task of triggering Article 50 is only the beginning of the process and it has been estimated that Parliament may need to scrutinise at least 15 further pieces of legislation in order to deliver Brexit. With typically 20 bills being introduced into Parliament in the Queen's Speech each year, and bearing in mind the level of debate on the short two-section Act to allow Article 50 to be triggered, it is possible that Parliament may have limited capacity for non-Brexit legislation.