UK

Theresa May Signs Letter To Brussels To Formally Trigger Article 50 And Begin Brexit

The point of no return looms.

28/03/2017 22:04 BST | Updated 29/03/2017 12:26 BST

Theresa May has signed the letter that formally announces the UK is quitting the European Union as she urged a divided country to “come together” over Brexit.

On Tuesday night, the Prime Minister signed the letter saying the UK was leaving, and on Wednesday at 12.30pm it will be handed to European Council President Donald Tusk in Brussels by Sir Tim Barrow, the British ambassador to the EU.

It is only at that point that Article 50 is triggered, firing the starting gun on two years of negotiations to extract the UK from the bloc.

The talks will include how much money Britain owes for bailing out and what trade deal - if any - can be hammered out once the UK quits the single market.

May will on Wednesday make a statement to Parliament where she will set out to MPs her determination to build a Britain with a “truly global outlook”. She is expected to say:

“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.

“And yes, those EU nationals who have made this country their home.

“It is my fierce determination to get the right deal for every single person in this country.

“For, as we face the opportunities ahead of us on this momentous journey, our shared values, interests and ambitions can - and must - bring us together.

“We all want to see a Britain that is stronger than it is today. We all want a country that is fairer so that everyone has the chance to succeed.

“We all want a nation that is safe and secure for our children and grandchildren. We all want to live in a truly Global Britain that gets out and builds relationships with old friends and new allies around the world. 

“These are the ambitions of this Government’s Plan for Britain. Ambitions that unite us, so that we are no longer defined by the vote we cast, but by our determination to make a success of the result.

“We are one great union of people and nations with a proud history and a bright future.

“And, now that the decision has been made to leave the EU, it is time to come together.”

Earlier in the evening, May spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, all key players in the talks ahead.

A Downing Street spokesperson said:

“In separate calls, they agreed that a strong EU was in everyone’s interests and that the UK would remain a close and committed ally.

“They also agreed on the importance of entering into negotiations in a constructive and positive spirit, and of ensuring a smooth and orderly exit process.

“The Chancellor, the European Council President, and the European Commission President thanked the Prime Minister for her calls.”

Britain was stunned during the referendum last June, when 51.9 percent voted Out. If the timing runs to schedule, by the end of March 2019 the UK will become the first state to leave the union in its 60-year history.