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‘Brexit’ Begins: The Point of No Return | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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People walk over London’s Westminster Bridge wrapped in Union flags on June 26, 2016. Odd Andersen / AFP – Getty Images

London – Brussels – The UK government has formally began Wednesday a legal process to exit the European Union, by triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which sets in motion a series of events which leaves the UK and the EU on amicable terms after two years of negotiation.

Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty allows a member state to notify the EU of its withdrawal and obliges the EU to try to negotiate a ‘withdrawal agreement’ with that state.

On Wednesday, UK Prime Minister Theresa May sent her formal notice to European Union leaders of the UK’s intention to leave the European project.

“This is a historic moment for which there can be no turning back. Britain is leaving the European Union,” May told the House of Commons in London.

“The Article 50 process is now under way, and in accordance with the British people, the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union,” she added.

EU President Donald Tusk received on Wednesday a notification letter from the British ambassador to the Union that triggers a two-year countdown to Brexit under Article 50 of the EU treaty.

Britain formally launched the process to leave the EU on Wednesday with Ambassador Tim Barrow personally delivering the letter, signed by the British premier, at Tusk’s office in Brussels, the journalist said.

“After nine months the UK has delivered. #Brexit,” Tusk tweeted after he received the letter, referring to Britain’s shock June 23, 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU.

May signed the letter in Downing Street on Tuesday, a photo released by her office showed.

In an interview with BBC Radio, Chancellor Philipp Hammond said Brexit was an “exciting time” and a chance to “put the divisions of the past behind us”, adding: “This is a pivotal moment for Britain.”

“Dear Donald Tusk, We’ll see EU soon”, read Thursday’s headline of Scotland’s pro-independence newspaper, The National, as reported by AFP.

The Telegraph, meanwhile, described Brexit as “A magnificent moment” on its front page, quoting Foreign Minister Boris Johnson who played an instrumental role in the leave campaign.

“We have every reason, in reality, to be brimming with confidence,” Johnson wrote in the newspaper.