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Wednesday 29 March

Follow our live blog on unfolding events in Brussels and beyond on the day the Prime Minister formally signalled Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.


Signing out, have a great evening everyone on what was a historic day for Britain.


Listen to Leave.EU’s Arron Banks on the Breitbart radio show hosted by Raheem Kassam


The Pressure is on Britain to sort out the divorce and perhaps pay the EU off as soon as possible to have enough time to settle a trade agreement after Angela Merkel sided with the European Commission on the negotiating timetable.

Speaking at a press conference at the German Parliament, she said:

“Only when those questions have been settled, which will still hopefully be soon, can we then start to talk about our future relationship.”


White House press spokesman Sean Spicer says President Trump helped lead the call on Brexit.

“He was a leader in the effort to call for Brexit, as you know,” he said at a press conference.


The Irish Government has released a statement:

It has been clear from the start that the UK’s departure from the Union would have significant economic, political and social implications for Ireland.

The Government has been working very hard for more than two years, even before the UK referendum, to engage with stakeholders across the island of Ireland, to fully analyse our main areas of concern, and to develop our negotiating priorities.

These are to minimise the impact on our trade and the economy; to protect the Northern Ireland Peace Process, including through maintaining an open border; to continue the Common Travel Area with the UK; and to work for a positive future for the European Union. We note that our particular concerns, including in relation to the Good Friday Agreement, have been acknowledged by Prime Minister May in her letter.

Click here for the statement in full


17.46pm The Brexit Secretary tells MPs to behave:


17.43pm Merkel rejects calls the divorce to be negotiated alongside the terms of the future trading arrangement:


17:22 Theresa May’s notification of withdrawal:

“the referendum was a vote to restore, as we see it, our national self-determination.”

The Prime Minister’s offer of continued defence and security cooperation is contingent upon an EU trade deal:

“If, however, we leave the European Union without an agreement the default position is that we would have to trade on World Trade Organisation terms. In security terms a failure to reach agreement would mean our cooperation in the fight against crime and terrorism would be weakened.”

On the sequence of negotiations:

“We believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the EU.”

And signs off with:

“Together, I know we are capable of reaching an agreement about the UK’s rights and obligations as a departing member state, while establishing a deep and special partnership that contributes towards the prosperity, security and global power of our continent.”

You can find the full text here


17.12pm Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chief negotiator, says he does not accept any attempt to “bargain” between trade and security:

“I think the security of our citizens is far too important to start a trade off from one for the other.”

17:06pm European Parliament President Antonio Tajani:

“The U.K. will not pay what they had not previously agreed to.”


4.57pm Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipilä:

“Finland will take a constructive approach to the negotiations and hopes the same of the U.K.

“We wish to continue working in close partnership with the U.K. However, all rights and obligations must be kept in balance throughout the negotiations with the U.K..”


4.22pm David Cameron speaks rare sense on Brexit while speaking to students in Ukraine, highlighting the cultural divide between the proud British people and the distant European project:

“Britain always was uncertain and opposed to the idea of a deeper and more integrated union. We never liked the EU flag. We liked our own flag.”


4.08pm New polling from YouGov shows that fewer than 1 in 4 Brits now back blocking Brexit, showing that the country is increasingly on board with our journey to national independence.


3.44pm MEPs call for Britain to remain shackled to the European Union until 2022 with transitional arrangements keeping Britain under the European Court of Justice.


3.31pm Sweden strikes an optimistic note with Prime Minister Stefan Löfven saying:

“I welcome the constructive approach in Prime Minister May’s letter. I would like to see orderly and results-oriented negotiations, and want our relationship with the U.K. to be as positive and mutually beneficial as possible even after the withdrawal. This is important for the U.K., the EU and for Sweden.”


3.21pm German Chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken out on Article 50, saying that the EU is “losing a strong and important member state” but reiterating EU refusals to conduct parallel divorce and trade talks:

“Not before those questions are answered, which will hopefully happen soon, we can start speaking about our future relationship”.


3.00pm Statement by the European Council in response to Theresa May’s letter:

Today, the European Council received a letter from the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, notifying the United Kingdom’s intention to leave the European Union. This notification follows the referendum of 23 June 2016 and starts the withdrawal process under Article 50 of the Treaty. We regret that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union, but we are ready for the process that we now will have to follow.

For the European Union, the first step will now be the adoption of guidelines for the negotiations by the European Council. These guidelines will set out the overall positions and principles in light of which the Union, represented by the European Commission, will negotiate with the United Kingdom.

In these negotiations the Union will act as one and preserve its interests. Our first priority will be to minimise the uncertainty caused by the decision of the United Kingdom for our citizens, businesses and Member States. Therefore, we will start by focusing on all key arrangements for an orderly withdrawal.

We will approach these talks constructively and strive to find an agreement. In the future, we hope to have the United Kingdom as a close partner.

President Tusk has convened the European Council on 29 April 2017.


3.10pm Brexit hero Nigel Farage celebrates Article 50 with a pint. Bravo!


2.46pm An informative timeline highlighting what will happen between now and the next major meeting of the European Council at the end of April, when formal guidelines for negotiation will be agreed:


2.41pm Downing Street confirms that the Prime Minister is still prepared to walk away from EU negotiations without a deal if necessary:


2.20pm The Spectator points to the need for a major national conversation on the shape of an independent United Kingdom following Article 50 notice:

“The triggering of Article 50 represents a great opportunity. We can now move on from whether Britain should or should not leave the EU: Article 50 has served irrevocable notice of our doing so. We can also move on from what Brexit means, as the Prime Minister has made her objectives clear: no to the single market, to free movement of people and to the European Court of Justice. So a new discussion can now begin. Given that Britain will make a clean break from the EU, what kind of nation do we want to be? And how engaged do we wish to be with our allies?”


2.09pm German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel calls for bad feelings to be put aside to strike the best deal for both sides in Article 50 negotiations:

“For many it is difficult to understand, especially in these turbulent times, how anyone can believe they would be better off alone. But this can’t be the basis for defining our future relationship.”


2.00pm British Ambassador to the EU, Tim Barrow’s email to UK nationals living in the EU:

“I know many of you may have questions arising from this [triggering Article 50] and I hope to have a chance to meet soon to discuss this in more detail, as we have done previously. However, if you wish to get in touch with us and don’t have other points of contact, please feel free to write.”


1.40pm Tusk brandishes the Prime Minister’s letter in the European Council

The EU’s objective is to “minimize the costs for EU citizens, businesses and members,” says Tusk. He also describes to the forthcoming negotiations as an exercise in “damage control”. For the EU perhaps…


1.14pm Back in England, the Leave.EU Team are treating themselves to some well-deserved bubbles.


12.33pm An historic moment for the United Kingdom captured in a photo as Donald Tusk receives Article 50 notice from ambassador Tim Barrow


12.25pm The letter of Article 50 notice has been delivered to European Council President Donald Tusk in an historic moment for the United Kingdom.


11.30am We are an hour away from delivery of Article 50 notice according to the Prime Minister’s planned timetable. You can get ahead of the news by reading about Article 50 here and by reading about what to expect in the months to come here.