Brexit: Article 50 will be triggered next week

Brexit: Article 50 will be triggered next week

A Commission spokesman said on Monday Barnier would do this "immediately" after the summit. But economists and government officials have warned that Britain's exit is likely to be turbulent, and some within the prime minister's ruling Conservative Party have pushed for her to call an early election this spring.

But EU negotiators warn it could take two years just to settle the divorce terms; agreeing on a new relationship for the United Kingdom and the EU could take years longer.

UK's Ambassador to the EU Tim Barrow informed European Council President Donald Tusk of the government's intention to trigger Article 50 earlier on Monday, Brexit Secretary David Davis said in a statement. The spokesman said the United Kingdom government remained "confident" that the process could be concluded within the two-year timeframe, meaning that the United Kingdom would formally leave the European Union by the end of March 2019 - ending 46 years of membership.

Continued full membership of the customs union is unlikely as it would prevent Britain striking its own trade deals with non-EU countries, a key plank of May's strategy for a new "global Britain".

Downing Street said in London the tour was part of a series of visits around Britain to enable the prime minister to engage and listen to people from across the nation as it prepares to leave the EU.

However, 54 percent of the firms have said that they do not plan to make any changes in their investments after Brexit and only 32 percent of them said that might reduce their investments.

Mr Tusk has previously said he expects to release an initial response to the Article 50 notification within 48 hours, and an extraordinary summit of the remaining 27 European Union member states is due to be called within four to six weeks.

EU leaders have said they want to conclude the talks within 18 months to allow the terms of the UK's exit to be ratified by the UK Parliament and the European Parliament, as well as approved by the necessary majority of EU states.

May has suggested that if talks stall she could walk away, saying that "no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain".

The UK will have "the choice to eat what's on the table or not come to the table at all", Mr Juncker told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

The Prime Minister is attempting to reach out in order to address criticisms that she is not paying proper attention to different administrations.

The Scottish National Party's Europe spokesperson at Westminster, Stephen Gethins, said: "Today's announcement. shatters beyond fix any notion or position that the Prime Minister is seeking a UK-wide agreement".

But formal talks between London and Brussels are not expected to start for six to eight weeks, according to European Union sources, and possibly later while waiting for the result of German elections in September.

According to Brexit secretary, David Davis, the process of exiting the European Union is "the most important negotiation for this country in a generation".

Amid fears of the impact on jobs and growth of leaving the single market, May is pushing for "maximum possible access" for British companies. May has already announced she will not be attending the event.