Prime minister Theresa May will formally trigger the UK’s departure from the European Union next Wednesday (29 March).
On 29 March she will submit a letter to the European Union formally triggering Article 50 – the legal mechanism by which the UK will leave the EU.
The government has declined to say whether the letter would contain negotiating objectives but Mrs May is expected to make a statement to the House of Commons on the same day.
Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, has responded by saying that within 48 hours he would present “draft Brexit guidelines” to all other member states of the trade bloc.
The government has recently started making pre-announcements of Brexit developments – such as Mrs May’s speech in January – to avoid falls in sterling after the prime minister’s comments.
Sterling's value against the dollar fell around the time of the announcement but has since recovered and is down only 0.08 per cent today (20 March).
Michael Stanes, investment director at Heartwood Investment Management, said: “The hard work now begins for the UK as it starts negotiations to exit the European Union.
“Triggering Article 50 no doubt marks a period of ongoing uncertainty for UK business and markets, but perhaps there is also some relief that the process is finally underway.
“While Brexit dominates UK concerns, French and German politicians will probably be more focused on their own national elections, which will further test anti-establishment sentiment.
“We continue to remain cautious on UK assets and expect higher inflation to weigh on real income growth this year.”
Once Article 50 is triggered the UK will have two years to negotiate its exit from the European Union.
Also today (20 March) the government published the Finance Bill 2017, which introduces a number of measures on tax, such as a new penalty for those who enable the use of tax avoidance schemes.