No turning back: Britain launches EU exit process

British Prime Minister Theresa May - her eyes on the two-year countdown until the deadline for Britain's ultimate exit - had called for divorce talks and negotiations on a new trade deal to proceed simultaneously.

Britain filed for divorce from the European Union on Wednesday, with fond words and promises of friendship that could not disguise the historic nature of the schism - or the years of argument and hard-nosed bargaining ahead as the United Kingdom leaves the embrace of the bloc for an uncertain future as "global Britain".

Ms May was speaking in Parliament as Britain's Ambassador to the EU Sir Tim Barrow personally passed the letter to Mr Tusk in Brussels at 12.20pm.

In an interview with BBC Radio, Chancellor Philipp Hammond said Brexit was an "exciting time" and a chance to "put the divisions of the past behind us", adding: "This is a pivotal moment for Britain".

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.

Many have insisted Britain must first make good on a divorce settlement that will include it settling outstanding financial commitments, the European Union has advanced a ballpark figure of €60bn, agreeing new border arrangements and clarifying the rights of European Union expatriates on either side of the new frontier.

But, the prime minister continues, "there shouldn't be a reason why we can not create a new, deep and special partnership between the United Kingdom and the European Union that works for all of us".

The Brexit negotiator continued to attack Mrs May when he appeared on Good Morning Britain earlier today.

Underlining the importance of quickly obtaining clarity on the negotiation process, Schaefer emphasized that "uncertainty is poison for the people - the EU citizens, Germans who live in Britain and what their future status would be, likewise for British citizens living in the European Union".

That means Britain may be pushed into agreeing to settle its financial "obligations" to Brussels, which may reach €60bn by some estimates, before it can begin to talk about a trade deal that will help secure the country's economic future.

Davis said he had spent the afternoon on the phone to European and EU ministers, who had complimented the tone of the letter.

In her Article 50 letter, the Prime Minister warned the European Union that a failure to reach a comprehensive settlement would lead to a weakening of co-operation in the fight against crime and terrorism.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and the leaders of France, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus and Malta will gather on 10 April at El Pardo palace outside Madrid, his office said on its website. - Manfred Weber, head of European People's Party (EPP), the biggest group in the European Parliament.

However, key financial services, such as euro clearing, are said to be more likely to shift to NY rather than Dublin, Frankfurt or Paris, according to a report by the House of Lords EU financial affairs sub-committee.

Lurking over the trade talks is the prospect of no deal, known as "hard Brexit", a legal void that most observers believe could have grave consequences for Britain, but also the EU.

Members of the European Parliament want citizens rights to be discussed at the beginning, fearing their rights could otherwise be used as bargaining chips during the negotiations.

"The security of the citizens is so important, the fight against terrorism is so crucial, that you can not negotiate with something else".

She said that both sides "are faced with the same global threats of terrorism and extremism".

Earlier, Amber Rudd, the home secretary, said that no threat was being issued by the United Kingdom and that trade and security talks were separate, but she added that security cooperation was a reality of European Union membership and would need to be negotiated after Brexit.

  • Leroy Wright