The Prime Minister has performed well in polling in recent months
Brexit – it’s going to happen and, as Donald Trump would say, it’s going to be “yuge”. In fact, many are saying it’s going to be one of the biggest moments in modern British history.
But when is it going to kick off? This is the question on everyone’s lips, yet so far there hasn’t been any concrete answers. And if 2016 has proven anything, it’s that we can be certain of nothing.
That said, the Government has put forward a general timetable they plan to meet. Here's everything you need to know about it:
Why don’t we have an exact date?
We don’t have an exact date is because Theresa May must first trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. This is basically the preliminary “get out clause” for EU countries. Interestingly, the person who wrote it says it was never meant to be used.
Once the article has been triggered, the UK must enter negotiations with the EU. Each side has two years to agree the terms of withdrawal before going their separate ways.
But this isn’t necessarily fixed – negotiations could finish before the two year limit is up. Or there could be an impasse where May doesn’t get the deal she wants, and it could take longer.
While there is talk of the Tories taking any deal they can get, a bad one for the UK could put a massive spanner in the works. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker recently said negotiations could take more than two years, as the UK would have to change “more than 20,000 laws”.
But when will the UK actually leave the EU?
Here’s what we know: Theresa May has said she plans to trigger Article 50 by the end of March 2017. This means the UK should formally leave the EU sometimes in the spring/summer of 2019.
The PM is currently waiting for her Brexit bill to be approved by the House of Lords, who start debating it on Monday 20 February. If they add any amendments to the bill it will have to go back to the Commons, but either way it looks almost certain to pass.
And if it does, Mrs May will be able to start the withdrawal process with full parliamentary approval, and take the UK out of the EU within two years. Or at least, that's the plan.