UK to kickstart process to leave European Union after Queen Elizabeth II gives royal accent to Brexit bill

Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday gave royal assent to a bill empowering British Prime Minister Theresa May to trigger Article 50 of the European Union's Lisbon Treaty and begin the process of leaving the EU.

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow announced that the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill has received the assent of Queen Elizabeth II.

The bill was passed by Parliament on Monday.

The House of Commons had on Monday rejected amendments by the House of Lords, calling on the government to protect the status of EU nationals within three months of the start of Brexit talks, by 335 votes to 287.

Queen Elizabeth II. AP

Queen Elizabeth II. AP

They also dismissed calls for Parliament to have a meaningful vote on any Brexit deal by 331 to 286 votes.

Royal assent is a formality — no monarch has refused to sign a bill for more than 300 years

May is now free to start two years of exit negotiations, which she said she will do by 31 March.

May had said that she will be sending a letter to the European Council informing them of Britain's decision to leave the bloc by the end of March, following a majority vote for Brexit in last year's referendum.

On 9 February, the British Parliament had overwhelmingly supported a bill empowering Prime Minister May to start crucial negotiations by 31 March on leaving the European Union.

The draft legislation of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill was approved by 494 votes to 122 by the House of Commons after its final debate.

United Kingdom decided to leave the EU after the 23 June referendum on the issue was supported by over 50 percent of the voters. After failing to keep UK in the multilateral body, the then prime minister David Cameron resigned after which May took over as the country's leader.

(With inputs from agencies)

Updated Date: Mar 16, 2017 17:30 PM

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