British Prime Minister Theresa May set a date for the Great Britain’s divorce from the European Union, telling an audience at a conservative conference on Sunday, “We will invoke Article 50 no later than the end of March next year.”
Referencing the article of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty allowing member states to withdraw from the bloc, the former interior minister used the conference to calm fears that she might delay the so-called “Brexit.” The rumors stemmed from a Sunday Times report that cited anonymous sources briefed by “ministers” as saying the two-year negotiation process would not start until 2019.
May also announced plans to repeal the European Communities Act, a United Kingdom law that incorporated European Union legislation into the domestic legislation of the U.K. and gave the country access to the EU’s common market.
“Our laws will be made not in Brussels but in Westminster,” she told the audience. “The judges interpreting those laws will sit not in Luxembourg but in courts in this country. The authority of EU law in Britain will end.”
Acknowledging the “trade-off” between limiting British businesses’ access to the European market and slowing immigration to a trickle, May said she wished for the U.K.’s future relationship with the EU to include law enforcement and counterterrorism cooperation and free trade. She did not, however, give the specifics of how a deal would allow Britain to have its cake and eat it, too, only promising that “this is going to be a deal that works for Britain.”
The value of the pound plunged between Sunday and Monday afternoon, from $1.2975 to $1.2852, the British currency’s lowest dollar exchange rate since 1986. Over the same period, its euro exchange rate fell from €1.1544 to €1.1440, a level not seen since August 2013.
In a June referendum, 51.9 percent of U.K. voters chose to leave the EU, while 48.1 percent voted in favor of remaining in the bloc.