It’s not us it’s you: Britain files papers to exit the EU
March 30, 2017
The United Kingdom filed for divorce from the European Union on Wednesday, overturning four decades of integration with its neighbors, demolishing the notion that EU expansion is inevitable and shaking the foundations of a bloc that is facing challenges to its identity and its place in the world.
Britain’s top envoy to the EU, Tim Barrow, hand-delivered a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk formally triggering a two-year countdown to the final split.
“Today the government acts on the democratic will of the British people,” Prime Minister Theresa May told lawmakers in the House of Commons.
For Britons who voted to leave the bloc in a referendum nine months ago, it was a time for celebration.
“In my opinion, this is the greatest moment in modern British history,” said Brendan Chilton, general secretary of the pro-Brexit group Labour Leave. “We are finally beginning the process by which we leave the European Union, restore our Parliament and once again become a sovereign nation.”
For “remain” campaigners, it was time to fight for a divorce settlement that preserves what they see as key benefits of EU membership, including free trade in goods and services and the right to live and work anywhere in the bloc.
“The phony war is over,” said Joe Carberry, co-director of the pro-EU pressure group, Open Britain. He said Britain had decided that it would leave the bloc — but “the issue of how we will leave, and the democratic checks and balances along the process of the negotiations, remains unresolved.”
For Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the EU’s executive Commission, Britain’s departure is “a failure and a tragedy.”
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