British leader says UK 'not leaving Europe'

Speaking hours after British Prime Minister Theresa May triggered the two-year countdown to Britain leaving the bloc, Merkel said Germany would work hard to ensure as little disruption as possible for people who have grown used to living, working and traveling seamlessly between the European Union and Britain.

The UK's partnership with the European Union has been hailed by some of the remaining 27 member states after Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50.

Tim Barrow, Britain's ambassador to the European Union, personally delivered the letter to EU President Donald Tusk's office in Brussels yesterday.

"Whatever the future EU-UK relationship looks like, we want Britain to remain a strong leader in Europe", Efe news agency quoted spokesman Sean Spicer as saying.

In the historic statement to MPs, the PM said "there can be no turning back" and Britain will now be quitting to "make our own decisions and our own laws".

"That is our ambition and our opportunity".

Britain wants to trade with the European Union without new rules or fees but says it will control immigration, ending the right of European Union citizens to live and work in Britain. Britain is leaving the EU.

Mr Tusk, the EU's top official, said "we already miss you" moments after he received the official Brexit letter. Any deals reached during these negotiations will have to be voted on by both the British and European parliaments and the European Council in Brussels.

She also stressed that the Government's plans would end the jurisdiction of the European Court. "After all most Europeans, including nearly half the British voters, wished that we would stay together, not drift apart", he said.

And she insisted there would be "no return to the borders of the past" on the frontier between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Elsewhere, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron claimed May had thrown British business into a state of "uncertainty and powerlessness" by quitting the EU and seeking a bespoke customs union agreement, which would allow the United Kingdom to broker its own free trade deals.

"Converting EU law into United Kingdom law, and ending the supremacy of lawmakers in Brussels, is an important step in giving businesses, workers and consumers the certainty they need. We know that we will lose influence over the rules that affect the European economy", the Conservative premier told the House of Commons.

I think it's a very great and historic day and I think that our European friends and partners have every reason to be positive about the suggestions we're making...

  • Leroy Wright