(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Brexit begins: Theresa May triggers Article 50, as U.K. takes official first steps to exit European Union

Prime Minister Theresa May signed the letter Wednesday morning

Katie Serena
March 29, 2017 7:29PM (UTC)

Let the Brexit begin.

Nine months after an historic vote, in which more than 50 percent of the British population voted to leave the European Union, the movement has officially begun.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has signed an official letter Wednesday, starting the official movement to withdraw the United Kingdom from the European Union.


“This is a historic moment from which there can be no turning back,” the prime minister told Parliament.

The letter, signed in Brussels, made the U.K. the first country ever to trigger Article 50 — the official legislation that details how a member state may withdraw from the E.U.

To trigger Article 50, an official letter must be presented to the European Council, outlining how the member state plans to withdraw. The letter is just the tip of the iceberg, though, as its signing sets in motion a two-year debate between the members of the E.U., after which an agreement will be reached as to how the U.K. will formally exit the international agreement.


Both the U.K. and the E.U. have a lot to lose if an amicable deal between the U.K. and the E.U. can not be reached. More than 40 years' worth of trade agreements, immigration laws and financial regulations are in place, all of which will have to be renegotiated. The European Union is the U.K.'s biggest trade partner, and if Brexit ends unfavorably, they both may have to reorient their entire economies, something that could mean trouble for the rest of the world. The U.K. is the world's fifth-largest economy, and the country's trade is heavily European-focused

European Council President Donald Tusk was described "visibly upset," according to the Post. He said he felt there was "no reason to pretend this is a happy day."

“After all," he said. "Most Europeans, including nearly half the British voters, wish that we would stay together, not drift apart."


Katie Serena

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