Brexit has begun, with Britain formally filing Article 50, a letter to the European Union giving notice of the United Kingdom’s intention to leave the EU.
Nine months after Britain voted to leave the EU, there are no regrets in the coastal town of Leigh-On-Sea.
The letter was delivered to EU Council President Donald Tusk by Tim Barrow, Britain’s permanent representative to the EU.
Mr Tusk confirmed on Twitter he had received the notification letter, saying “After nine months the UK has delivered Brexit”.
He also tweeted a photograph of himself receiving the small, business-style white document from Mr Barrow.
Earlier, British Prime Minister Theresa May signed Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, nine months after the June 2016 referendum that voted to leave the EU.
After the filing of the papers, Ms May told Parliament Britain was on a “momentous journey” and there was no going back.
“When I sit around the negotiating table in the months ahead, I will represent every person in the whole United Kingdom — young and old, rich and poor, city, town, country and all the villages and hamlets in between,” she said.
“And yes, those EU nationals who have made this country their home.
Ms May — an initial opponent of Brexit who won the top job in the political turmoil that followed the referendum vote — will have two years to settle the terms of the divorce before it comes into effect in late March 2019.
“It is our aim to deliver a smooth and orderly Brexit, reaching an agreement about our future partnership by the time the two-year Article 50 process has concluded,” Ms May said.
She said she hoped there would then be a “phased process of implementation” in which both sides prepare for the new arrangements.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel made it clear there would be no negotiations on Britain’s future ties with the EU until the terms of Brexit were finalised.
“Britain and the EU, including Germany, have become closely entwined over years of membership,” Ms Merkel said.
“In the talks we must clarify how these close ties can be untangled.
“We must deal with many rights and obligations that have been linked to membership. Only then, later, can we talk about our future relationship.”
Mr Tusk, the EU’s top official, said “we already miss you” moments after he received the official Brexit letter.
But Mr Tusk said that the withdrawal also “has made us, the community of 27 [European nations], more determined and more united than before to make the difficult negotiations ahead a success”.
“Our goal is clear: to minimise the cost for the EU citizens, businesses and member states.
“We have all the tools to achieve this.”
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