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‘Brexit’ Has Officially Begun as Theresa May Triggers Article 50

10 Downing Street

When 52% of UK voters urged their country to leave the European Union last June, nobody really knew what was going to happen next. The UK entered into uncharted territory, becoming the first country to leave the EU since its establishment in 1993. 

Today, Prime Minister Theresa May took the first concrete step toward leaving the EU when she triggered Article 50, officially calling for the two-year period of negotiations between UK and EU representatives to start. 

Take action: Tell Theresa May Why You’re Proud to Be a Global Citizen

Article 50 only came into existence in 2009, 36 years after the UK joined what was then called the European Communities in 1973. It stipulates that “Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.” 

Along with commencing discussions between UK and EU representatives (you can read about who will be part of these discussions, here), May is expected to announce the “Great Repeal Bill,” BBC reports. The repeal bill will give UK legislators the ability to go through European laws and decide which ones they want to keep, and which they want to jettison.

Seeing as there is no real protocol to follow in the case of a member state leaving the European Union, the exact timeline of the negotiations between the UK and the EU is not certain. 

Read more: The Age Gap - How the Old Defied the Young on Brexit & Trump

BBC has reported that Brexit negotiations could begin as early as May or June, but these are contingent on leaders of the 27 remaining EU countries agreeing to a mandate to negotiate with the UK during an EU summit on April 29.

The two parties are expected to conclude negotiations by March 2019, but it’s possible (and maybe even likely) that negotiations won’t wrap up so easily. If they continue on past March of that year, the Washington Post reports, “World Trade Organization rules would kick in – meaning considerably higher tariffs on the flow of goods and services across the English Channel.”  

In January, May made a speech that declared that “no deal was better than a bad deal”. However, European diplomats based in the UK have suggested that such a hardline approach has started to fade, recognising the chaos it would inspire.

Donald Tusk has now received Theresa May's letter from Sir Tim Barrow, declaring her intention to leave the European Union. In her speech to the commons, May told MPs that she will lead a "Global Britain", remaining a "close friend and ally... that reaches beyond the borders of Britain."

The Article 50 process is now officially underway. You can read May's letter to Tusk below.