Key points from May's Brexit letter

British Ambassador to the European Union Tim Barrow delivered a letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk formally initiating the country's departure from the economic bloc.

"We were a permanent member of the Security Council before we joined the EU".

"We want to make sure that Europe remains strong and prosperous and is capable of projecting its values, leading in the world, and defending itself from security threats".

"We already miss you", Tusk in Brussels after receiving the letter formally notifying him of Britain's intention to leave.

Britain yesterday launched the process to leave the European Union, saying there was "no turning back" from the historic move that has split the country and thrown the bloc's future into question.

With Article 50 invoked, Britain will have two years to negotiate its self-extraction.

But the grief quickly gave way to the harsh realities of the European negotiating table, as Ms Merkel poured cold water on one of her British counterpart's key demands.

In a "historic moment from which there can be no turning back", Mrs May set the country on the path to life outside the European Union when she triggered Article 50 on Wednesday.

Tusk responded to May's letter by saying, "There's no reason to pretend that this is a happy day, neither in Brussels nor in London".

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan spoke to his British counterpart Philip Hammond after Ms May's announcement, reminding him that Ireland would be negotiating as part of the remaining 27 European Union member states. But Brexit talks will take at least two years, maybe even longer.

"The Article 50 process is now under way and in accordance with the wishes of the British people, the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union", she said.

Calling for optimism and determination in charting the U.K.'s new course, May said, "I choose to believe in Britain, and that our best days lie ahead". "After all, most Europeans, including nearly half the British voters wish that we would stay together, not drift apart".

"Today's the day for me - after 25 years of campaigning - that the impossible dream came true".

The Prime Minister said the repatriation of responsibilities from Brussels would lead to a "significant increase" in the decision-making power of the devolved administration.

The President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce today said it was "essential" that Northern Ireland's political leaders get back to work to agree a common position on Brexit.

The European Parliament will have the final say on any Brexit deal in a vote expected at the end of 2018 or in early 2019.

  • Salvatore Jensen