Brexit: Britain files Article 50 letter to formally leave European Union

May's team will publish proposals to incorporate an estimated 19,000 Europe-based rules into United Kingdom law on the day Britain leaves the EU.

May signed the Article 50 Brexit clause on Wednesday night - triggering the process for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union after the shock referendum previous year.

The Brexit vote sent the pound plunging and there are concerns about economic stability if the negotiations end without a new trade agreement in place.

By triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the Britain and European Union are expected to have a two-year process in which the terms of exit will be negotiated.

The letter was delivered to EU Council President Donald Tusk by Tim Barrow, Britain's permanent representative to the EU.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there could be no negotiations on Britain's future ties with European Union until the Brexit terms were finalised.

Mr Hammond said it was an "exciting time", telling the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "This is a pivotal moment for Britain".

Back in London, the British prime minister was accused of souring the fledgling Brexit talks with her attempt to tie pan-European security collaboration to any deal.

Nine months after the shock referendum vote to leave the bloc, Britain handed over a momentous letter to the European Union president in Brussels, triggering Article 50 of the bloc's Lisbon Treaty and firing the starting gun on a two-year countdown towards Brexit.

She said: "I am very clear about what the people here in the United Kingdom expect but I am also clear that we are a law abiding nation we will meet the obligations we have".

Its leaders say they do not want to punish Britain.

Donald Tusk said in his statement: "We already miss you - thank you and goodbye".

Reactions also poured in from other European countries after the country triggered divorce talks with the EU on Wednesday. "We are going to take control of the things that matter most to us and we are going to take this opportunity to build a stronger, fairer Britain, a country that our children and grandchildren are proud to call home". She confirmed her intention to seek a new relationship and a new trade deal in the next two years, and said a no deal scenario was "not the outcome that either side should seek".

The pair spoke in hushed tones surrounded by two Union Flags and two European Union flags in a room on the 11th floor of the Europa building.

"What can I add?"

  • Arturo Norris