World news story

The United Kingdom triggers Article 50

"Our departure from the EU motivates us to reinforce the excellent relationship we already have with Mexico," Duncan Taylor, HMA to Mexico.

Theresa May

PM Theresa May

On 29 March Prime Minister Theresa May formally notified the European Union of the United Kingdom’s intention to leave the European Union, starting the formal process of leaving the bloc. This process will take two years, concluding on 29 March, 2019.

Last June’s referendum manifested a transcendental decision, beyond leaving the European Union, it was a vote for change: to make the UK a stronger and fairer country. In this sense, it should be noted that leaving the European Union does not mean the UK will be leaving Europe: we will continue to be reliable partners, willing allies and close friends with other European countries. The United Kingdom will seek a deep and special partnership with the European Union: we want to enjoy a new and equal relationship with our friends and allies of the European Union. It is in our interest that the European Union continues to be successful after our departure.

This departure process will entail the repeal of the European Communities European Communities Act 1972 and its conversion into British law. On 30 March, British government will launch an extensive consultation with all the sectors that compose to the United Kingdom, beginning with the publication of a White Paper containing its strategy leave the European Union. In this respect, Prime Minister May made clear that, from the outset and throughout the process it will be negotiated as United Kingdom, taking into account the specific interests of each nation and region of the United Kingdom. Once powers return to the United Kingdom, it will be widely consulted on which powers will remain in Westminster and which will be transferred to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Prime Minister addressed the Parliament on 29 March, and delivered a letter notifying the UK’s decision. This letter formally summarises what we propose to our European partners. The following points are the principles that will be the basis of the negotiation for the upcoming two years:

  • the UK is leaving the European Union but not Europe and we want to remain committed partners and allies to our friends in Europe
  • the UK wants to make sure that the EU remains strong and prosperous and is capable of projecting its values
  • it is in the best interests of the UK and the EU that the negotiations proceed in a fair and orderly manner, with as little disruption as possible on each side
  • the Government wants to approach discussion with ambition, giving citizens and businesses in the UK, in the EU and in third countries around the world, as much certainty as possible, as early as possible
  • the UK will negotiate as one United Kingdom, taking due account of the specific interests of every nation and region of the UK
  • the UK wants to agree with the EU a deep and special partnership that takes in both economic and security cooperation
  • the UK will seek to guarantee the rights of EU citizens who are already living in Britain, and the rights of British nationals in other member states as early as we can

In this regard, Duncan Taylor, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Mexico commented:

Our departure from the European Union motivates us to reinforce the excellent relationship we already have with Mexico in all areas. Mexico is a strategic partner and our departure from the European Union represents an opportunity for us to continue working hand in hand and to expand and to strengthen our bilateral relations.

Prime Minister’s letter to Donald Tusk triggering Article 50

Prime Minister’s oral statement to the House of Commons on triggering Article 50

Published 30 March 2017