by WorldTribune Staff, March 29, 2017
Britain’s ambassador to the EU on March 29 delivered a letter signed by UK Prime Minister Theresa May to European Council President Donald Tusk that officially triggered Britain’s departure from the EU.
“After nine months the UK has delivered Brexit,” Tusk wrote on Twitter.
“There is no reason to pretend this is a happy day,” Tusk said later in a speech. “We already miss you. Thank you and goodbye.”
Ambassador Tim Barrow delivered the letter to Tusk at the European Council’s headquarters in Brussels.
May, in an address to lawmakers in London, hailed the triggering of Article 50 as a “historic moment from which there can be no turning back.”
Britain is the only EU nation to ever invoke Article 50, which gives both sides two years to reach agreement.
“We are going to take control of the things that matter most to us,” May said.
“Now is the time for us to come together and be united across this house and across this country to ensure that we work for the best possible deal for the United Kingdom and the best possible future for us all,” the prime minister said.
In the six-page letter, May said Brexit was “no rejection” of European values and that Britain wanted the EU to “succeed and prosper.”
“We are leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe – and we want to remain committed partners and allies to our friends across the continent,” she wrote.
EU leaders have said they have “no desire to punish Britain for leaving the bloc, but with growing anti-EU sentiment in other member states, they also do not want to make exiting seem an attractive option,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported.
Britain’s finance minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, told the BBC that London will need to compromise during the process, saying “everybody in the EU and the UK is going to go into this negotiation looking to protect their own interests.”
“We understand that we can’t cherry-pick, we can’t have our cake and eat it,” he added.
EU Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources Guenther Oettinger said he expected “many difficult negotiations in the next weeks and months.”
Within 48 hours of receiving May’s letter, Tusk is expected to send draft negotiation guidelines to the other 27 member states. EU ambassadors will then gather to discuss the draft.
A summit of EU leaders on April 29 is to agree to give the European Commission a mandate to negotiate with London.
Meanwhile, UKIP leader and Brexit champion Nigel Farage has said he will “go and live abroad” if Brexit is a disaster.
“It isn’t going to be a disaster. We’ve just managed to get ourselves in a lifeboat off the Titanic. The EU does not work,” Farage told his LBC radio show audience on March 27.
“The last opinion polling I saw said if there was a referendum tomorrow 68 percent would vote to leave. And millions of people have realized the pack of lies that were told, that our house prices would collapse… the stock market is through the roof.”