British Prime Minister Theresa May officially triggered the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union Wednesday, telling parliament that the country has reached a point of no return.
“This is an historic moment from which there can be no turning back,” said May in her remarks. “Britain is leaving the European Union.”
The British representative to the EU handed a letter to the President of the European Council on behalf of the government, triggering what is known as Article 50, the measure which allows an EU member to unilaterally remove itself from the organization.
May noted the decision was culmination of the British peoples’ decision exemplified in last year’s vote. The prime minister said the decision will now allow the U.K. to make its own sovereign decision.
“We are going to make our own decisions and our own laws,” said May. “We are going to take control of the things that matter most to us. And we are going to take this opportunity to build a stronger, fairer Britain — a country that our children and grandchildren are proud to call home.”
May added that she believes her country’s best days are ahead, and that the British people should be optimistic about the withdrawal. She also said that the U.K.’s removal from Europe does not mean the country is leaving Europe.
“We will remain a close friend and ally,” said May. “We will be a committed partner. We will play our part to ensure that Europe is able to project its values and defend itself from security threats. And we will do all that we can to help the European Union prosper and succeed.”
The British government will now have to negotiate with the EU on the details of their removal. The parties have two years to come to an agreement, which must be approved by a “qualified majority” of EU members. May’s government would then have to revise British law, and negotiate bilateral trade agreements worldwide.
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