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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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Article 50 formally triggered with letter to Donald Tusk

Britain has formally given the EU notification that it intends to leave the bloc.

Sir Tim Barrow, British ambassador to the EU, handed the written letter to European Council president Donald Tusk on Wednesday.

The minute the letter was accepted, the notification to leave was triggered.

Britain now has two years to negotiate an agreement with the 27 remaining EU countries over its future relationship with the bloc.

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