UK Prime Minister Teresa May said it was a “Moment of celebration for some, disappointment for others” and promised to “Represent every person in the whole United Kingdom” during the negotiations – including EU nationals, whose status after Brexit has yet to be settled.
The letter calls for a “Deep and special” partnership in the best interests of both the UK and the EU – but said the UK wanted to agree a trade deal alongside a withdrawal deal within the two year time table allowed by Article 50.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party would “Back” Mrs May if she meets his party’s tests on the Brexit deal – including full access to the single market and protection for workers’ rights.
“More than ever, Britain needs a government that can deliver for the whole country, not just the few, and that is the ultimate test of the Brexit deal that the prime minister must now secure,” he told MPs. Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, who opposes Brexit, said Mrs May was “Twisting the will of the people, leaping into the abyss without any idea of where our country will end up”.
The SNP accused Theresa May of breaking a promise to secure a UK-wide agreement before triggering Article 50 – and took a swipe at the prime minister’s claim that “Now is not the time” for another Scottish independence referendum.
“The party’s foreign affairs spokesman Alex Salmond said:”After nine months of this prime minister’s approach to Brexit Northern Ireland is deadlocked, the Welsh are alienated, Scotland is going for a referendum, the English are split down the middle, and Brexit MPs are walking out of Commons committees because they don’t like home truths.
“Has the prime minister considered, in terms of invoking Article 50, that ‘now is not the time’?”.
Chancellor Philip Hammond, who like Mrs May and Mr Corbyn campaigned against Brexit in the referendum, earlier suggested the UK would have to compromise with other EU countries and could not expect to secure all its demands.
The document says any transitional agreement to tide over the period before a trade deal is put in place should last no more than three years after the expected date of Brexit in 2019.
The resolution, expected to be debated and adopted by the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 5 April, sets out the tough line which leading MEPs want the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier to take in negotiations triggered by the invocation of Article 50.
Theresa May will be outlining the next steps for the UK during a special half hour BBC One interview on Wednesday with Andrew Neil at 19:00 BST on “Britain after Brexit”, to mark the triggering of Article 50.Up for discussion Trade: The UK will withdraw from the single market and seek a new customs arrangement and a free trade agreement with the EU Expats: The government wants to secure an agreement with European countries “At the earliest opportunity” on the rights of EU nationals in the UK and Britons living in Europe.
Brexit bill: The UK government has promised to honour its obligations as it leaves, but has brushed off claims these could run to £50bn.
Original story: ‘No turning back’ on Brexit as Article 50 triggered