Prime Minister Theresa May will trigger Britain's divorce proceedings with the European Union on March 29, launching two years of negotiations that will reshape the future of the country and Europe. As Sonia Legg reports, sterling slipped from a three-week high against the dollar after the announcement.
Britain's divorce from the EU will begin on March 29. Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed the trigger date for Article 50. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, THERESA MAY, SAYING: "I want to ensure we get the best possible deal for the United Kingdom, that works for everyone. I have set out my objectives, those include getting a good free trade deal, they include putting issues like continuing to work together, on issues like security, at the core of what we are doing." Two years of official negotiations will follow. But critics say that's nowhere near enough time to hammer out a deal. Britain's economy has held up better than expected since the June Brexit vote. But sterling has taken a battering - and analysts will watch the next few months with trepidation. SOUNDBITE (English) JEREMY BATSTONE-CARR, INDEPENDENT MARKET ANALYST, SAYING: "The actually triggering of the process will not come as a great surprise to markets, what will come as a surprise is if the first stab at UK Q1 GDP, which is out at the end of April, is extremely weak. And indeed the trend in consumption over the course of the past few months suggests that it might be weak, that will begin to unnerve investors and could potentially serve to undermine sterling." European Council president Donald Tusk has been informed of Downing Street's intentions. He says he'll send negotiating guidelines to the other member states within 48 hours of Article 50 being triggered. Full talks could then begin in May. After nine months, the Brexit process is about get real.