The UK has officially started its departure from the European Union. Prime Minister, Theresa May, gave official notice under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty in a letter to European Council President, Donald Tusk. Sir Tim Barrow, the British ambassador to the EU, delivered the letter to Mr Tusk in Brussels today.
Following a cabinet meeting between the Prime Minister and the Government’s cabinet ministers, Mrs May delivered a statement to Parliament confirming that the two year timeframe for the UK to agree a Brexit deal with the EU has begun. Mrs May told MPs that “this is a historic moment from which there can be no turning back” and that leaving the EU presents the UK with a unique opportunity, an opportunity that is the current generation’s chance to build a better future. Mrs May stated that the Government will represent every person in the UK during negotiations with the EU, including those EU nationals living in the UK whose residency status following Brexit has not yet been established. Mrs May said that the UK shares the liberal, democratic values of Europe and told MPs that whilst the UK would be leaving the institutions of the EU, it would not be leaving Europe. Mrs May told MPs that she wants a “new, special and deep partnership with the European Union”.
In a BBC interview earlier today, Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond said the Government understands it can’t “cherry-pick” rights and benefits from the EU and that “we can’t have our cake and eat it” acknowledging that there will be consequences from the UK’s decision to the leave the EU.