As promised, British Prime Minister Theresa May has officially triggered the Brexit process by submitting a formal letter to the European Union invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, by which the alliance of nations first came to be. Of course this doesn’t mean the United Kingdom and its soon-to-be-former diplomatic and fiscal partner will suddenly cut ties. Wednesday’s letter simply initiates a legal process by which May’s government will have up to two years to settle any and all details of the process before completing the separation.
The letter itself was delivered to European Union Council President Donald Tusk by Sir Tim Barrow, the group’s British Permanent Representative, during a photo op for members of the international press. “We regret that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union,” remarked the E.U. Council in a statement, “but we are ready for the process that we now will have to follow.”
In a separate statement to the press, Tusk commented on the “six pages” he’d received from May, saying he would “not pretend that I am happy today.” Even so, the Polish politician noted “there is also something positive in Brexit”:
Brexit has made us, the community of 27, more determined and more united than before. I am fully confident of this, especially after the Rome declaration, and today I can say that we will remain determined and united also in the future, also during the difficult negotiations ahead.
May, meanwhile, delivered own comments on the matter during a meeting with Members of Parliament in the House. “Today the government acts on the democratic will of the British people and it acts too on the clear and convincing position of this House,” she said, adding: “This is an historic moment from which there can be no turning back.”
Brexit is “the moment for the country to come together,” May continued in her address. Throughout it and the six-page letter to the E.U., which can be read in full here, the British Prime Minister hailed the occasion as one through which the United Kingdom and its remaining member countries could finally stand on their own again — while also maintaining their longtime alliances with their European neighbors.
As for the British people, however, a YouGov survey reviewed by Bloomberg revealed which items those asked “wanted brought back” following Brexit. The results are… something: