Britain triggers Brexit

The letter informing the European Council of Britain's intention to leave the European Union was handed over to EC president Donald Tusk in Brussels on Wednesday.

The historic declaration, signed by Prime Minister Theresa May, sets in train a two-year process of negotiation under Article 50 of the EU treaties leading to Britain's expected withdrawal after 46 years of membership in 2019.

Mrs May told MPs it was "an historic moment from which there can be no turning back", while Mr Tusk said: "We already miss you."

In her letter to Mr Tusk, the prime minister wrote:

  • that the UK wants to agree with the EU a "deep and special partnership" that takes in economic and security cooperation
  • she believes it is necessary to agree the terms of the future partnership "alongside those of our withdrawal from the EU"
  • that in the case that no deal is reached "both sides would of course cope with the change", but that "it is not the outcome that either side should seek"

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How Brexit could change trade in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland a free-flowing border with the Republic allows many industries to flourish - so how will this be affected by a so-called "hard Brexit?"

ITV News Correspondent Martin Geissler reports from the Irish Border, where two business managers have opposing views on the impact of border posts and tariffs:

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Farage celebrates Article 50 triggering by heading to pub

Nigel Farage has celebrated the triggering of Article 50 by going to the pub for a pint.

The former UKIP leader said it was a "big day" and he was having a "minor celebration".

He added: "Every day is a sad day in the European Union because every single day that goes by opposition to the project grows amongst all 28 member states.

"The European Union may have been a good idea 60 years ago. It doesn't work anymore."

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Brexit: 'Put the rights of citizens in UK and Europe first'

The chief Brexit representative for the European Parliament has said that the basic principle driving Britain and the EU's new relationship should be to put "citizens first".

European negotiator Guy Verhofstad told a news conference the parliament was "completely against citizens becoming bargaining chips in negotiations."

"When we talk about citizens, it's citizens in Britain and citizens in the European Union," he said. "It's an absolute priority that the rights of these citizens is settled."

We want the EU-27 to examine hot to mitigate the negative effects for those British people who are losing their European citizenship.

– European negotiator Guy Verhofstad

Verhofstad said that the EU and Britain should agree on a general framework of a new relationship withing two years. Britain can change its mind on leaving the EU - if all other EU states agreed to its return, he added.

A 'no deal' scenario would be a 'catastrophe' for the UK

President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani has said that a "no deal" Brexit scenario would be a "catastrophe for all - but especially the United Kingdom."

"The UK would be faced with tariffs, uncertainty for the car industry and financial services, increased food prices, high traffic disruptions, long lines of lorries in Dover to name just a few," he told a news conference.

The veteran Italian politician said the UK will have to fully respect its treaty obligations until the last day of membership, including its financial commitments.

"The UK will not be asked to pay for anything they had not previously agreed to," he added.

Tajani described Wednesday as a "bad day" after Britain informed the European Council of its intention to leave the European Union.

EU's Brexit negotiator says his team is 'ready'

The key European Union Brexit negotiator with the UK has said his team is "ready".

Michel Barnier also tweeted a photograph of his team who he said would "work for the 27 European Union members" during Brexit negotiations.

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