BRI­TAIN FILES FOR ‘DI­VORCE’

Bri­tish en­voy hand-de­liv­ers let­ter to EU coun­cil president to trig­ger Ar­ti­cle 50

New Straits Times - - News -

BRI­TAIN launched the process to leave the Euro­pean Union yes­ter­day, say­ing there was “no turn­ing back” from the his­toric move that has split the coun­try and thrown the bloc’s fu­ture into ques­tion.

Just days af­ter the EU’s 60th birth­day, Bri­tain be­came the first coun­try ever to seek a di­vorce, strik­ing a blow at the heart of the union forged from the ashes of World War 2.

“This is an his­toric mo­ment from which there can be no turn­ing back,” Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May told mem­bers of par­lia­ment.

Nine months af­ter the shock ref­er­en­dum vote for Brexit, Bri­tain trig­gered Ar­ti­cle 50 of the EU’s Lis­bon Treaty, start­ing the two-year count­down to leav­ing the bloc.

“We al­ready miss you,” said EU President Don­ald Tusk in Brus­sels, af­ter re­ceiv­ing the let­ter for­mally no­ti­fy­ing him of Bri­tain’s in­ten­tion to leave. The six-page let­ter was signed by May and de­liv­ered in per­son by Bri­tish am­bas­sador Tim Bar­row.

It sets the stage for months of pro­tracted and dif­fi­cult ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween Lon­don and Brus­sels over out­stand­ing bills, im­mi­gra­tion and trade ties.

While the EU scram­bles to con­tain the fall­out from Bri­tain’s de­par­ture af­ter four decades of mem­ber­ship, May is also bat­tling to keep her deeply di­vided na­tion to­gether.

“As we face the op­por­tu­ni­ties ahead of us on this mo­men­tous jour­ney, our shared val­ues, in­ter­ests and am­bi­tions can — and must — bring us to­gether,” May said at the House of Com­mons.

In her let­ter, May re­peated that Brexit was not in­tended to harm the EU, and said she wanted a “new deep and spe­cial re­la­tion­ship with a strong Euro­pean Union”.

AFP

AGEN­CIES PIX

A statue of Win­ston Churchill is seen in front of Big Ben and the Houses of Par­lia­ment in Lon­don yes­ter­day.

Euro­pean

Union Coun­cil president Don­ald Tusk hold­ing the Brexit let­ter

yes­ter­day.

Bri­tain's Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May speak­ing at the House of Com­mons in Lon­don yes­ter­day.

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