BRITAIN FILES FOR ‘DIVORCE’
British envoy hand-delivers letter to EU council president to trigger Article 50
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”.
A statue of Winston Churchill is seen in front of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in London yesterday.
Union Council president Donald Tusk holding the Brexit letter
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaking at the House of Commons in London yesterday.