Theresa to enroll formal Brexit divorce papers
International Desk:"Now that the decision has been made to leave the EU, it is time to come together," May will tell lawmakers, according to comments supplied by her office.
British Prime Minister Theresa May will enroll formal Brexit divorce papers on Wednesday, pitching the United Kingdom into the unidentified and triggering years of uncertain negotiations that will test the endurance of the European Union.
Nine months after Britons voted to leave, May will see
EU Council President Donald Tusk in a letter that the UK really is quitting the bloc it joined in 1973. The prime minister, an initial opponent of Brexit who won the top job in the political turmoil that followed the referendum vote, will then have two years to settle the terms of the divorce before it comes into effect in late March 2019.
“Now that the decision has been made to leave the EU, it is time to come together,” May will tell lawmakers, according to remarks supplied by her office. “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,” May will say.
On the eve of Brexit, May, 60, has one of the toughest jobs of any recent British prime minister: holding Britain together in the face of renewed Scottish independence demands, while conducting arduous talks with 27 other EU states on finance, trade, security and other complex issues. The outcome of the negotiations will shape the future of Britain’s $2.6 trillion economy, the world’s fifth biggest, and determine whether London can keep its place as one of the top two global financial centres.
For the EU, already reeling from successive crises over debt and refugees, the loss of Britain is the biggest blow yet to 60 years of efforts to forge European unity in the wake of two devastating world wars.
Its leaders say they do not want to punish Britain. But with nationalist, anti-EU parties on the rise across Europe, they cannot afford to give London generous terms that might encourage other member states to break away.
May’s notice of the UK’s intention to leave the bloc under Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty is due to be hand-delivered to Tusk in Brussels by Tim Barrow, Britain’s permanent representative to the EU. Barrow arrived at the European Council building shortly before 0800 GMT for a routine weekly meeting with the senior diplomats of other member states.
He reached the ambassadorial Jaguar, carrying a well-worn black leather briefcase which may – or may not – have contained May’s letter. British officials declined to say. Barrow has an appointment with Tusk, the EU summit chair and former Polish prime minister, in the Council President’s offices on the top 11th floor of the new Europa Building at 1120 GMT, where he is due to hand over the letter.
That moment will formally set the clock ticking on Britain’s two-year exit process. Tusk will speak to reporters after that. May signed the Brexit letter on Tuesday, pictured alone at the cabinet table beneath a clock, a British flag and an oil-painting of Britain’s first prime minister, Robert Walpole. She will update the British parliament at around 1130 GMT.
The Sun, Britain’s most popular newspaper, projected giant messages to Europe including “Dover and Out”, “Goodbye” and “See EU Later” onto the white cliffs of Dover facing the continent. In the French media, the response was less celebratory. The Libération newspaper led with the headline: “We miss you already! Or do we…” over a picture of a guardsman wearing a bearskin hat, a traditional symbol of Britain.
The Brexit letter is expected to seek to set a positive tone for the talks and recap 12 key points which May set out as her goals in a speech in January, EU officials said. Within 48 hours of reading the letter, Tusk will send the 27 other states draft negotiating guidelines. He will outline his views in Malta, where from Wednesday he will be attending a congress of centre-right leaders. Ambassadors of the 27 will then meet in Brussels to discuss Tusk’s draft.