Published: Thu, March 16, 2017
World | By Carl Welch

Official Brexit negotiations could take months to kick off

Official Brexit negotiations could take months to kick off

"The tunnel vision that SNP (Scottish National Party) has shown today is deeply regrettable".

"This was the last chance and I struggle to find words to express my utter desperation that European Union citizens will now be used by the government as bargaining chips in the Brexit negotiation", said Nicolas Hatton.

Now armed with parliamentary approval, May is on course to deliver Brexit, but found herself mired in politics related to Scotland's referendum that has the potential of further complicating the Brexit process, if not undoing it.

However, ITV News' political editor Robert Peston said he did not think Mrs May would trigger Article 50 until the end of March.

As soon as the process is completed in the Houses of Parliament, a royal assent will be formally given by Queen Elizabeth II to give May full authority to finally trigger Brexit.

European leaders are preparing for Article 50 to be triggered this week, as is Britain's opposition Labour party.

The remaining 27 European Union leaders will discuss the post-Brexit future at a summit in Rome on March 25 to mark the 60th anniversary of the bloc's founding treaty.

The EU will "not be intimidated" by threats about the United Kingdom leaving with no deal, Donald Tusk has said.

Mrs May and Chancellor Philip Hammond have indicated that if a favourable trade deal can not be reached, Britain is ready to transform itself into a low-tax, low-regulation zone off the shore of Europe to lure global business away from its former partners.

In recent weeks, the government had lost two key votes in the House of Lords which added conditions to the bill to demand that May guarantee the rights of European Union nationals living in Britain and give MPs more powers to reject the final terms she reaches with the EU.

The EU Withdrawal Bill was passed unamended after the House of Lords voted by 274 votes to 118 not to challenge the House of Commons again over the issue of whether Parliament should have a veto on the terms of exit.

She said the Brexit vote has left Scotland at a crossroads, with an independence referendum needed to allow the country to choose which path to take.

Sturgeon says she wants a vote to be held between the autumn of 2018 and the spring of the following year.

The British government has the power to block Sturgeon's request, but this would likely only energise the Scottish nationalists' cause.

May immediately condemned the plan, less than three years after Scots voted by 55 percent to reject independence, saying it would be "divisive". However, polls suggest any new referendum would be closer.

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