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With Parliament's Approval, Britain on Verge of Triggering EU Divorce Talks

  • VOA News

British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in London, Feb. 1, 2017.

British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in London, Feb. 1, 2017.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is set to address parliament Tuesday, a day after lawmakers gave her approval to begin Britain's exit from the European Union.

May is still awaiting one final step, the consent of Queen Elizabeth, but that could come as early as Tuesday.After that she will be free to formally notify the EU she is triggering Article 50 of the bloc's treaty, which covers how a member can withdraw.

A May spokesman said Monday that she is not likely to make that move until the end of this month.The exit process is expected to take about two years as British and EU officials negotiate exactly how to unwind the governmental and economic partnerships that come with EU membership.

Annmarie Elijah, associate director of Australian National University's Center for European Studies, says the two sides have a host of issues to work out now that the process is moving from theoretical to practical, including what happens to EU nationals living in Britain.

"The EU Council President Donald Tusk has already indicated that the EU will respond quite quickly once the UK government formally triggers Article 50," Elijah told VOA."And most people think that the process from here on in will involve a formal convening of the European Council once more in order to set forward with the negotiating mandate and so on."

The breakup began with a June 2016 referendum in which British voters narrowly chose to leave the EU.The vote appeared to be driven by anti-establishment sentiments and the feeling the EU governing structure has taken too much control away from the common British citizen.

The referendum also brought the resignation of former Prime Minister David Cameron, who during a re-election campaign had promised to hold the vote.

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