United Kingdom kicks off divorce from EU

Andrew Cummings
March 29, 2017

May will announce to Parliament that Britain is set to formally file for divorce from the European Union Wednesday, ending a 44-year relationship, enacting the decision made by United Kingdom voters in a referendum nine months ago and launching both Britain and the bloc into uncharted territory.

British Prime Minister Theresa May spoke about the move on Wednesday, calling it "an historic moment from which there can be no turning back".

It was the act of handing over this letter which constituted the formal notice that the Brexit process is now underway, nine months after the Leave campaign won the European Union referendum.

He tweeted a photograph of himself receiving the small, business-style white document from Sir Tim.

"Leaving the common market will hurt a lot all on its own", he said.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, a downbeat president of the European Council told the people of the UK: "We already miss you".

"When I sit around the negotiating table in the months ahead, I will represent every person in the whole United Kingdom - young and old, rich and poor, city, town, country and all the villages and hamlets in between", she said. "We are going to make our own decisions, our own laws".

She promised to "represent every person in the whole United Kingdom" during the negotiations - including European Union nationals, whose status after Brexit has yet to be settled.

Britain insists that it must regain the right to control immigration and end free movement from other European Union countries into Britain.

Within 48 hours of reading the letter, Tusk will send the 27 other states draft negotiating guidelines.

European leaders expressed dismay, with Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen saying Britain's goodbye to the European Union is "incredibly sad" and he expects "many bumps on the road". A European Parliament resolution leaked to the Guardian newspaper suggested that Britain could face a tough response, with no trade deal to be granted within the two-year negotiations window and transitional arrangements to help soften the impacts of Brexit limited to three years.

The notification of Article 50 marks the first formal step in the direction of Brexit after a referendum in June 2016 in favour of Britain leaving the EU.

"There is nothing to win in this process and I'm talking about both sides". Now Britain and the European Union have two years to settle on the terms of a divorce that must be generous enough to win the approval of the U.K. Parliament - but punitive enough to discourage other European Union nations from exiting the bloc. May told Parliament Wednesday that securing those rights would be an early priority in talks with the EU.

The EU is the UK's biggest trading partner, and experts have warned that it may take more than two years to come up with a fresh trade deal.

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