London: Britain has set its date with destiny confirming its two years of negotiations to split from the European Union will begin next Wednesday, March 29.
The announcement makes good on Prime Minister Theresa May's pledge to the Tory conference last year that she would pull the trigger, Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, by the end of March 2017.
MPs who campaigned for Brexit were jubilant on Monday, when Downing Street confirmed to British political reporters, known as "The Lobby", that the Mrs May would pull the trigger on Wednesday week.
Brexit Secretary David Davis said the UK's permanent representative to the European Union, Sir Tim Barrow, had informed the European Council earlier on Monday.
"We are on the threshold of the most important negotiation for this country for a generation," he said.
"The Government is clear in its aims: a deal that works for every nation and region of the UK and indeed for all of Europe – a new, positive partnership between the UK and our friends and allies in the European Union."
The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said on Twitter that he would present draft Brexit guidelines to the 27 EU member states within 48 hours of Mrs May pulling the trigger.
Within 48 hours of the UK triggering Article 50, I will present the draft #Brexit guidelines to the EU27 Member States.— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) March 20, 2017
Prominent Tory MP Andrew Rosindell, also the co-chair of the ANZAC parliamentary friendship group said March 29 would also be an important date for Australia and the Commonwealth.
"Starting the leaving process marks the beginning of the UK broadening her horizons beyond the EU, and means that we can renew our focus on strengthening relations with countries further afield," he said.
"Australia is a very highly valued part of the Commonwealth family, and I very much look forward to our two nations working increasingly closely together over the coming years."
The only MP from the UK Independence Party (UKIP) in the British parliament Douglas Carswell said he was "on top of the world" at hearing the news:
I'm on top of the world! https://t.co/8BUXQ6FNCn— Douglas Carswell (@DouglasCarswell) March 20, 2017
But the Labour MP Pat McFadden said Mrs May needed to ensure Britain would enjoy the same access it has to the single market as it does now.
"As she enters talks with our European partners, it is up to the Prime Minister to deliver the deal that she and her ministers have promised. That means a trade agreement that gives us the 'exact same benefits' as we have now on access to the European market."
"The Government has promised a Brexit deal that will not damage our economy and put jobs at risk. They need to meet the tests they have set themselves," he said.
The government is highly unlikely to give any such guarantee as it has said it is willing to leave the single market, which comes with the obligation for member states to sign up to the free movement of citizens. The latter requirement was a key factor driving the Brexit vote.
The government wants to negotiate its own special free trade deal with the EU along with a host of deals with other countries including the United States, Australia and China.