to sum up this in for sunday. to sum up this weekend, if you have any plans, take something waterproof. there will be something waterproof. there will be some april showers around. sunday looks dry but there will be some chilly nights ahead. this is bbc news. the headlines at 11: theresa may has signed the letter triggering the two year process of britain leaving the european union. it will be delivered to brussels tomorrow. and with brexit in mind, the scottish parliament has voted to hold a second referendum on independence. a royal marine who was convicted of shooting dead a wounded taliban fighter in afghanistan, will be freed within weeks after his sentence was reduced. on newsnight, marine le pen tells us that brexit will be difficult, as she thinks that the eu will make divorce preparations as painful as possible. good evening, and
welcome to bbc news. the prime minister has signed the letter that will activate article 50 of the treaty of lisbon, the formal start of the process of leaving the european union. the letter will be delivered tomorrow to the european council by the uk's ambassador to the eu. theresa may said today that she was determined to use brexit as an opportunity to build a "global britain." our political editor, laura kuenssberg, reports. nine months of careful assembly, plenty of preparation, and attention to detail. the decisions that have been taken will affect all our lives and livelihoods, and her political future. banging the drum for trade with the gulf, the prime minister wants to reach out.
tomorrow we begin the negotiations to secure a new deep and special partnership with the european union. as we do so, i am determined that we should also sees this historic opportunity to get out into the world. but there's a job at home to do, too. here in birmingham, voters favoured leaving the eu but were split almost down the middle. nevermind, for now, negotiating with more than two dozen other countries, the referendum divided opinion here, notjust between north and south, or town and country, or even constituency and constituency, but sometimes street by street like this. in this part of birmingham on this side of the road, the harborne car council ward where nearly 70% of people voted to remain, but on the other side of the road, the quinton ward, where there was a very clear verdict the other way round. in the next two years, theresa may
must try to seal her deal with voters everywhere who wanted very different things. others, like mike wheeler, a businessman, have even changed their mind in the last few months. ministers want to keep people on side, but we brought mike and a group of businesses together to ask how. since the referendum, what we've seen is not what we expected, which was a massive crash of the economy and high levels of unemployment coming through. our sales have increased locally, our exports sales have increased and our employment levels have increased. so, we haven't seen what we expected, so that gives me a lot of confidence. we should finish the year much better than i thought we were going to finish. however, do i think uncertainty has gone away? absolutely not. i think it's here to stay and any false move by anyone in the government, really, could bring that back, just like that. let's get on with it. we can all do this,
we can all do it together, and we're on the right trip together. i am bothered by short—term damage that can be done now, and which will be very hard for the government to manage through policy. i'm optimistic about the future from what i've seen and it's fair to say that our members are cautiously optimistic about the future. i mean, we're seeing lots of our members continue to invest, continue to take advantage of the low pound, the exchange rates, etc. so, for exporters, it's been a real boon. yet, even from the looks on theirfaces, these prominent remainers are far less convinced. i worry that she will be pushed into a corner a little bit by the hard brexiteers, who will be reluctant to give an inch. with the prime minister almost ready to start a long and complicated process, the final product still looks unclear. but, however she fares, the shape of the country is being recast. laura kuenssberg, bbc news, birmingham. well, we can speak now to eleanor garnier who's at westminster.
a big day tomorrow. take us through it. what will happen? theresa may said it is an historic moment. on the front page of most newspapers, theresa may sitting in number 10 downing st signing that letter that is then going to be delivered to brussels. what will happen is that letter, not many people will know what is in it. it is a closely guarded secret. theresa may will discuss it at the cabinet meeting tomorrow. she will then go to the house of commons tomorrow where she will give a statement to mps. article 50 will not be triggered, that formal start of negotiations, will not be triggered, until our man in brussels, the ambassador to the un marches down the corridor and
physically hands the letter to the president of the eu council, donald to ask. it is only when donald tusk has the letter in his own hand that the clock will start ticking and the two—year deadline will start to get and closer. theresa may has two yea rs and closer. theresa may has two years to get the deal she wants with the eu. and once that letter is delivered, what is the next big set piece in this? does it go behind the scenes and it is all furtive discussions in secret? the focus may switch to brussels. for so many weeks and months since the result nine months ago, the discussion has been mainly in westminster. but after it has been triggered, momentum will shift to brussels. we are expecting some brexit guidelines to be circulated within 48 hours of
article 50 being treated. then there will be a special meeting of the 27 remaining eu leaders towards the end of april, and they will discuss their main negotiating positions until negotiations get under way in earnest in may. we are just highlighting that yes, brexit is dominating everything the british government is doing at the moment, and there are concerned leaders gci’oss and there are concerned leaders across the eu as well, but there are other things going on in other countries. elections in france and germany. theresa may is going to need to convince other eu leaders and politicians of the deal she wa nts for and politicians of the deal she wants for britain, but she is going to have to get their retention as well, because they will be thinking about other things as well as other eu leaders leaving. —— their attention. thank you. eleanor
garnier, in westminster. the people of scotland have the right to choose between brexit or becoming an independent country. that was the first minister's message, as the scottish parliament formally requested a second referendum on independence. nicola sturgeon warned that it would be "democratically indefensible" for westminster to stand in the way. our scotland editor, sarah smith, is in edinburgh tonight. cheering jubilant excitement as supporters heard the scottish parliament had just voted for a referendum. tears of joy today, but disappointment will follow. they're shouting "yes," but the prime minister will soon tell them, no, there will not be a vote. i call on nicola sturgeon. earlier, the debate, suspended after last week's terror attack in westminster, resumed. scotland's future should be in scotland's hands. that is what this debate is about, the future of our country, how we best harness our potential as a country and overcome the challenges that we face. is she going to spend the next two years and 100% of her time campaigning for scotland to leave
the uk at the expense of governing or will she roll up her sleeves from today and seek to secure more powers for this parliament when they're returned from brussels to britain? independence debates always excite passion and confrontation. we are sick of it and most people in scotland have had enough, too, because this parliament needs to and must focus on the priorities of the people of this country and it is not the time to be sidetracked by yet more unnecessary division. so, i won't take any lessons from the first minister, because, actually — sit down — precisely nothing changed yesterday. i think i've answered the first minister's question. the result was never really in doubt, as the greens voted with the snp. the motion as amended is, therefore, agreed. applause. the first minister can now formally ask theresa may for an independence vote. i hope the united kingdom government will respect the view of parliament. this is simply about giving people in scotland a choice. we agree that now is not the right time for that choice,
but that choice should be available to people in scotland when the terms of brexit are clear. so i'll look forward to discussions in the weeks ahead. nicola sturgeon knows that theresa may is going to refuse to allow another scottish referendum, so why bother asking for one at all? well, the tories say it's all part of a well—rehearsed game from the snp where they put forward proposals to westminster they know will be rejected and then react with righteous indignation when they are. rejecting holyrood's request for a referendum is a risk, but that's exactly what the uk government will do. the prime minister's made her position very clear, now is not the time for another referendum. nothing has been said in the scottish parliament which takes away from the fact that a referendum during the brexit process would be unfair on the people of scotland. the dangerfor the uk government is that saying no could backfire and stir up support for independence, but they firmly
believe most scottish voters don't want another referendum and will accept now is not the time. that was sarah smith reporting there. a royal marine who shot dead a wounded taliban fighter in afghanistan has been given a seven—year jail sentence, but is expected to be freed within weeks. alexander blackman has already spent half that time in prison after being originally found guilty of murder. that conviction was quashed on appeal and replaced with manslaughter earlier this month. our correspondent, duncan kennedy, reports. cheering it was the news fellow marines had been waiting four years to hear. and, moments later, their euphoria was shared in the reaction of alexander blackman's wife. we are overjoyed at the judge's decision to significantly reduce our sentence such that he can be released imminently. this is the moment we've all been fighting hard for. it's hard to believe that this
day is finally here. as a marine sergeant, alexander blackman had been a decisive, accomplished leader of troops, someone who'd killed 30 times for his country. but on this tour of afghanistan, in 2011, he and his men went through what was called a tour from hell. they were provoked and violently targeted incessantly by the taliban. in this field, they found an injured taliban insurgent, sergeant blackman was recorded saying this. anybody want to do first aid on this idiot? no. he then pointed his gun at the insurgent. shot fire. he then added. shuffle off this mortal coil. in 2013, sergeant blackman was found guilty of murder, a decision that angered thousands of military colleagues. but earlier this month that conviction was reduced to manslaughter because new evidence showed the mental strains on him had badly impaired his judgement.
and so, today, his sentence was reduced to seven years, meaning he can be freed from this prison in wiltshire some time in the next few weeks. and while his supporters are delighted, the judges did stress that alexander blackman did break the geneva convention and that his actions could be used as propaganda by insurgents to show that british values are no different to anybody else's. claire blackman is nowjust a few days away from being reunited with her husband, but although she and their supporters see this as a day ofjustice, the message from the judges is clear — killing in war must always be covered by the rule of law. duncan kennedy, bbc news, in wiltshire. the front pages. the daily mail
looks at article 50, calling it an historic day for britain. and the i talks about the prime minister's calls for unity during the brexit negotiations. the daily express talks about theresa may signing article 50. the daily mirror reveals the letter will be hand—delivered to the letter will be hand—delivered to the european council president, donald tusk. the sun projected its headline on a white cliffs with the headline on a white cliffs with the headline dover and out. and the times altered the biggest political shakeup since the second world war. and while the letter to donald will have a broad outline of the negotiating position, it will have no mention of a cut—off date for migrant rights. and the guardian calls it the day britain steps into the dark. that is it. now it is time
for newsnight. it was brexit, then it was trump. could the next shock to the global liberal establishment be le pen? we speak to the great hope of populism in france. also tonight, theresa may will formally begins the brexit process with article 50 tomorrow. but where should she finish? and how bad would "no deal" be? we ask two of her party's mps. and we send the high priest of remainism to understand why ebbervale in south wales voted so emphatically for brexit.