The EU’s reaction to the UK triggering Article 50 is what Theresa May “expected”, the Prime Minister told friends this evening.
Speaking before she addressed a meeting of Tory backbenchers, the Prime Minister revealed she was not phased by the reaction across Europe to her letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk.
In a press conference after receiving the Article 50 notification, Tusk told the UK: “We already miss you.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared to shoot down one key demand within hours of the letter being delivered, insisting a new trade deal with the UK could not be negotiated while the divorce bill is being discussed.
May called for both negotiations to be carried out simultaneously and concluded within the next two years.
She entered the meeting of the Tories 1922 Committee at just after 6pm, and called on the party to pull together now Article 50 has been triggered.
May insisted Brexit means “opportunities for everyone”, and, according to one senior Tory present at the meeting, told MPs: “The referendum was not just about Brexit, it was about everyone who felt left behind.”
The MP also said May had reminded Tories the “real task starts now” and “there’s lots of work to do.”
May was met by loud banging on desks by MPs as she entered the committee room, and received an equally enthusiastic applause when she left a little under 10 minutes later.
She used her appearance to tell MPs she wanted to make the UK a coutry where hard work triumphs over privilege – a theme she has repeated on numerous occasions since becoming Prime Minister last year.
In an email to Conservative supporters this evening, she said that when Brexit negotiations formally begin, she would be representing every person in the UK, including “those EU nationals who have made this country their home.”
May added: “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.”
As well speaking in the Commons and taking part in the interview with the BBC, due to be broadcast at 7pm this evening, May also spoke on the phone to European Parliament President Antonio Tajani this afternoon.
May also revealed she snacked on an apple and a handful of nuts before entering the Commons chamber at 12pm this afternoon in order to sustain herself for the marathon grilling from MPs that followed.