this is bbc news at westminster, on the day the united kingdom started the process of leaving the european union. britain's ambassador in brussels handed over a letter triggering article 50 to the president of the european council earlier today. the letter had been signed last night by theresa may in the cabinet room at number 10 downing street. i'm pleased that brexit‘s happening cos i think it'll be good for our country to get back to have our own rules and regulations. we'll have control of our borders again. the government's embarking on a journey and it has no idea where it's going, it doesn't know what it's doing and anyhow it's not in control of negotiations from now on. the prime minister said her government was following the democratic will of the british people, and promised to build a stronger united kingdom. britain is leaving the european union. we are going to make our own decisions and our own laws. we are going to take control of the things that matter most to us.
so here it is. donald tusk said he missed the uk already, and promised to defend the remaining 27 member states in the two years of negotiations ahead. there is no reason to pretend this is a happy day, neither in brussels nor in london. in other news, a week on from the terror attack here in westminster, a vigil has been held to remember the victims. good evening. welcome to westminster. theresa may made history today when a 6—page letter written and hand delivered to the president of the european council,
formally announced britain's intention to leave the eu. the prime minister said britain would be able to make its own decisions, but continue to have a deep and special relationship with the eu. for the european union, the president of the council said this was not a happy day for either brussels or london — but he added, his goal now was to defend the interests of the remaining 27 members of the eu. for our first report tonight, here's laura kuenssberg. some moments make us. this is one. the minute in westminster, belfast, edinburgh and cardiff that the united kingdom formally changed course. the article 50 process is now underway and in accordance with the wishes of the british people, the united kingdom is leaving the european union. this is an historic moment from which there can be no turning back. probably our last ambassador to the european union handing over the letter at 12:25pm.
the document that says we are on our way out. theresa may's signature on our departure. herjob now, to make it work. this, her hope. a country that goes out into the world to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike. and that is why i have set out a clear and ambitious plan for negotiations ahead. it is a plan for a new, deep and special partnership between britain and the european union. her decisions about how mean we are out of the single market to control immigration. as european leaders have said many times, we cannot cherry pick and remain members of the single market without accepting the four freedoms that are indivisible. we respect that decision. a friendlier tone to the continent, an ambition to bring this country together. mr speaker, when i sit around the negotiating table in the months ahead i will represent every person in the united kingdom, young and old, rich and poor, town
and country and all the villages and hamlets in between. and yes, those eu nationals that have made this country their home. and it is my fierce determination to get the right deal for this country. in perhaps the most important letter she'll ever pen, the prime minister spoke of her hope to give reassurance quickly to the millions of eu citizens who live here and brits abroad. but no guarantees. the prime minister wants a free trade deal with the eu of greater scope and ambition than any before. a bold hope seen as naive by some to try to protect firms who do business around the confident from rules and barriers. no overt threat to walk away but a serious warning. a failure to reach agreement would mean our co—operation in the fight against crime and terrorism would be weakened. we must work hard to avoid that outcome. her message, the eu needs us.
she wants also to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the eu, to work out how we leave at the same time as sorting out the future. labour aren't the only ones sceptical she can deliver. if the prime minister can deliver a deal that meets our tests that will be fine, we will back her. more than ever britain needs a government that will 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. the clock is ticking now. memories of today will be so different. a public party for some. even though that's not actually the foreign secretary. almost a wake for others. that's the sense in the home of the eu. there's no reason to pretend that this is a happy day, neither in brussels nor in london.
some powers coming back from brussels will bypass this place and flow to hollywood, cardiff and storm on. for remainers here and in the scottish government those promises don't go far enough. the prime minister still can't answer basic questions about what brexit will mean for businesses, the economy generally and for the type of society we live in. this six simple pages will do much to determine our place in the world in the future. the letter is less abrasive in tone to the rest of the eu than when to reason they started as prime minister. she still had to persuade her party she really was committed to leaving. now the clamour of the referenda misconduct, the tone is politely practical. the message of the letter, get real. you need us and we need you. remember we bring a lot to the table when it comes to policing, security and intelligence services. it wasn't firing a shot but she was just making a reminder,
remember what is at stake here. it is an enormous decision. it is exciting but i don't underestimate the scale of the task that lies ahead in the next two years. what has happened today is the biggest stimulation of british power and sovereignty in my lifetime. —— do munition. a letter which is really about kicking off a trade negotiation had six mentions of trade and ii mentions of security. it struck me as a reckless series of threats. not that he ever needs a reason to be pictured with a pint, today ukip were celebrating. over the moon, happy. today, for me, after 25 years of campaigning, the impossible dream came true, i'm very pleased. and look who popped up later. what matters now is that we have a successful negotiation and try to maintain a close relationship between britain and the european union. in a rare interview inside number ten the prime minister promised, despite all the challenges, our relationship with the rest of the continent will be just as good.
what we are both looking for is that comprehensive free trade agreement which gives that ability to trade freely into the european single market and for them to trade with us. it will be a different relationship but i think it will have the same benefits in terms of that free access to trade. an assertion that will take a lot to prove. one her counterparts in europe struggle to believe. number 10's time for preparation is up, now time to try to persuade. in her statement to mps, theresa may said she'd negotiate for the whole of the uk, taking into account the interests of the nations and regions. in a moment we'll hear from chris buckler in county tyrone and sian lloyd in cardiff. but first, here's our scotland editor, sarah smith, in edinburgh. scotland's first minister said she does wish to raise a success with the forthcoming negotiations because a good uk deal is in scottish
interests. but she is not optimistic. she described the process as a leap in the dark. they scottish gunmen have been terribly impressed with the promise of a significant increase in powers for the scottish parliament that teresa may mentioned today. they say they haven't had any commitments about what new powers may come to hollywood after brexit. nicola sturgeon is busy writing a letter of her own, the one in which he makes a formal request for another scottish referendum. she knows what the a nswer referendum. she knows what the answer will be. theresa may may tell they can be no discussions until after the brexit deal scottish voters have had a chance to see how it is working. lam standing it is working. i am standing at one of the 260 crossing points between northern ireland and the republic of ireland. this bridge will become part of the only land border between the uk and another country. this river may be seen as a dividing line. people here
ci’oss seen as a dividing line. people here cross for work, for access to health care, for other services, and trade. that is why the british and irish governments have been so strong in saying they want these roads to remain completely open. european parliament went further delay. they say they will not accept a hard border on the island of ireland. they don't want anything that will threaten the peace process. in reality, brexit has already been divisive. at stormont, were the power—sharing government has collapsed, that collapse wasn't caused by the issue, but brexit has the potential to fuel political differences. irish republicans have been listening closely to the push for a referendum in scotland. they point out thatjust for a referendum in scotland. they point out that just as in scotland, the majority of people in northern ireland voted to stay inside the european union, and are calling for an independence referendum, a referendum really an irish unity.
wales voted to leave the european union and there was a recognition of that this morning by the first minister, carwynjones, that this morning by the first minister, carwyn jones, when that this morning by the first minister, carwynjones, when he said he would be working with the uk government to get the best deal for wales. however, by this afternoon, the cracks had begun to appear. you sensed his frustration when he said it was deeply regrettable that the welsh government had not been able to contribute to the article 50 letter, and that the devolved administrations had been treated with a lack of respect. he had already voiced his concerns about the future of farming and economic subsidies yesterday. he wasn't sure what would be happening after 2020, he said. there were no guarantees. some of the poorest parts in wales sharing £2 billion of grant aid at the moment. the leaders of the welsh conservative party has said that is scaremongering, and theresa may has said the specific interest of the nations will be taken into account.
sian lloyd in cardiff. as we've heard, the president of the european council said he would not pretend it was a happy day, but said the remaining eu members are united and are determined to protect their interests during what he called the "difficult negotiations" ahead. katty adler reports. the man with the burning letter in his briefcase. morning. big day, ambassador? sir tim barrow arrived without much fanfare at the european council building this morning. but this isn'tjust an historic day for the uk. for the eu it is a momentous, never to be forgotten kick in the teeth. visibly unhappy, this was the recipient of britain's letter starting the brexit process. so, here it is. six pages. donald tusk, the man who represents all eu member states, here in brussels. there's nothing to win in this process and i'm talking about both sides.
this is about damage control. so the letter has been delivered. what now? well, the european commission is the lead negotiator for the eu when it comes to brexit. frans timmermans is the commission vice president. but how can negotiations even start, i wondered, with both sides at loggerheads? the uk wants divorce talks and talks of a new trade deal in parallel. the commission says non. divorce comes first. it is all part of how we negotiate. but how do you square that circle? everybody starts with his own interest and tries to formulate his own interest in the best possible way, that is what we all do. what is the problem in having parallel talks, talking about trade at the same time as divorce, for example? the position of the eu will be determined on the basis of a careful analysis of theresa may's letter. there can be no future settlement if we are not very clear on how the divorce settlement is going to be. to make two years of complex negotiations even thornier,
the uk isn't talking just to the european commission. the real power behind the throne lies in the eu capitals. berlin, paris, rome, and 2a others. they will take any big political decisions for the eu when it comes to brexit and a future trade deal. they don't and won't always agree with one another and the article 50 timeframe is very, very tight. just before everyone heads into the lion's den, there were conciliatory noises all round in europe today. look at the front page of this german newspaper. and then this. from germany's powerful, europhile prime minister. translation: we the european union will conduct fair and constructive talks. i hope that the british government will approach the negotiations in the same spirit. chancellor merkel also stressed the importance of deciding the fate of eu citizens living in the uk and british citizens
in the eu, asap. brussels and london agree, thankfulfor one issue at least to unite around. let's find out how the triggering of article 50 has gone down in brussels. my colleague, ben brown, is there. i was just i wasjust reading i was just reading tonight the comments from angela merkel. she says only when the questions of divorce are cleared up, can we subsequently talk about the future. this is one of the key issues. the europeans want to talk about divorce first. the prime minister wants to talk about the future relationship as well as the divorce terms? yeah, thatis as well as the divorce terms? yeah, that is absolutely right. i was talking to one member of the european parliament who was saying to me, the british want to go into the restaurant and have all the food together, all the various courses together. where is the way the eu
seesit together. where is the way the eu sees it going in terms of these negotiations, and angela merkel backing that, if they wanted to be different courses. you start off negotiating the divorce payment, if you like. and which britain would have to pay to leave. that has been estimated at 60 billion euros. it may be less. then the next courses all the other exit arrangements. and then finally, after all that has been agreed, then they can talk about a possible deal. but it has to be in that order. that seems to be the plan of the chief eu negotiator, michel barnier. also, you find very few people in this town who say it is possible to arrange a new eu trade deal with britain in that two—year time frame. most people think it will be longer than that. this has been a case today, lots of focus on the green, cameras from all over the world, you get ready and
you wait. nothing is going to happen in the next few weeks as far as the european union is concerned? that's right. we're not even going to get the broad black —— outline of the eu negotiating position from donald tusk, the european council president. that will come on friday. he will set out the broad parameters of the eu position. in a month, april 29, there would be a summit of the other 27 eu leaders. they will elaborate on that letter from donald tusk. they will elaborate what the red lines are, the negotiating positions etc. the real negotiations will not get under probably until late may orjune. and even then, really, people say the negotiations in earnest will not begin until we have had the french presidential elections. and then in september, the german elections. until those elections are out of the way, the
negotiations proper can't really kick in. you are looking at the autumn before it properly begins. it has to be done and dusted by october 2018 18th of has to be done and dusted by october 201818th of european parliament to endorse it and the other 27 countries to ratify it. it's not two yea rs countries to ratify it. it's not two years at all. it's more like one year. that is a very tight timetable indeed. indeed it is. maybe it will focus minds. thank you for the moment. let's talk now to the pro—brexit conservative mp suella fernandes, and the labour shadow brexit minister, paul blomfield. just before they came to us, we have been talking. a good day for you and a pretty depressing day for you, paul? i am pleased. it's something i campaigned for. i'm really inspired by the vote the british people made. it shows democracy works and ordinary people can really change history if we enough people of our cause. it's very inspiring as we start the new chapter of our future.
you don't share that optimism?” think what came out of the prime minister's statement today was a different tone than we have seen over re ce nt different tone than we have seen over recent weeks. and perhaps a creeping recognition of the complexity and the risk that is facing us as we enter into the most difficult negotiations this country has ever seen. is there a recognition that is finally here? has ever seen. is there a recognition that is finally here7m practice, what the prime minister recognised today was this was firing the starting pistol. there will be at least two years of negotiations around the divorce, and probably a great deal longer talking about our future relationship. that is why it is so important we get it right. two big hurdles to get over, the divorce bill, which is anything up to 60 billion euros if you listen to voices in europe. and the terms of the negotiation. do wejust
voices in europe. and the terms of the negotiation. do we just deal with the divorce settlement first or the future relationship in parallel? this so—called divorce bill doesn't bear any reality. a house of lords committee found on its assessment there is no legal basis for that divorce bill. they say it does. if they are not prepared to tango until we pay the bill, it does count, doesn't it? the uk actually is owed money from our investment of millions of pounds into the european investment bank. there are always starting points. it's expected that parties will put their strongest cards forward. but let's see what happens. on the remain side, some would say there has been some hysteria about single market, as if it isa hysteria about single market, as if it is a walled garden and unitas silver key to get into it. the reality is that a lot of countries
around the world trade into the single market and only pay 3%, 4% tax. the mode of money we pay in is equivalent to a 7% tariff? of course countries round the world can trade into the single market, but on what terms? we have the unique benefit of being part of the single market at the moment. ithink being part of the single market at the moment. i think even the prime minister is written —— recognising that the government is taking an enormous risk by walking away from it. she's pulling back from the language of some of the more extreme voices within her party, who have been most encouraging cashing out on the toughest possible terms. she said tonight the deal they could get could be as good as being in the single market. do you believe that? that is the task labour has set her. in doing so, we have been quoting back something david davis said. he confidently told the house of commons in january that they would
get a custom script —— customs and trade agreements, which offer the same benefits as staying in the single market. we will measure them on that. because labour did not stand ina on that. because labour did not stand in a way of the brexit bill, the prime minister has been handed unprecedented power in peacetime to negotiate a deal. as a conservative party mp, do you feel the building behind us should have a say in what she is doing and what he returns with? we have been through a very lengthy, rigorous process. there has been extensive debate. voting. over 300 amendments were tabled. i'm pleased that the article 50 bill went through without amendment. but there was heated debate at all stages. the prime minister and the government have been open to scrutiny and challenge, not only in parliament but also in select committees. i think that sets the tone for things to come. the great repeal bill begins tomorrow. you
will be busy? the so-called great repeal bill. 19,000 rules and regulations to be sucked in, here? it is. it is not repealing anything. it is. it is not repealing anything. it is. it is not repealing anything. it isa it is. it is not repealing anything. it is a great entrenchment bill. what is the intention of the gum and thereafter? many are arguing that they should be a bun fight —— bonfire of regulations. we should be very worried. those regulations relate to employment, the environment etc. thank you. and we'll find out how this story, and many others, are covered in tomorrow's front pages at 10:45 and 11:30 this evening in the papers. our guests joining martine croxall tonight, are caroline wheeler from the sunday express and henry mance of the financial times. in other news, a minute's silence has been held this afternoon on westminster bridge,
to mark the moment khalid masood began his terror attack last week. three people died after being hit by the car he was driving. a police officer was also killed. the inquests into their deaths were opened and adjourned earlier today. daniela relph reports their anguish and pain so obvious. the family of the american victim, kurt cochran, came to westminster to remember. they mourned his loss together at the place where he was hit and thrown from the bridge. kurt cochran was the first to be hit when the vehicle careered onto the pavement. teacher aysha frade also died, she had two children. leslie rhodes was also killed on the bridge, he was 75 years old. the final victim was pc keith palmer. he died despite the desperate efforts to save him. earlier, at exactly 2:40pm, the moment the attack began a week
ago, the familyjoined others on the bridge whose lives had changed last wednesday. they included this man from romania who suffered a broken foot. his girlfriend was thrown from the bridge and she remains in a stable but critical condition in hospital. doctors, nurses and ambulance crews were also in westminster, with schoolchildren and representatives of different faith groups. they stopped in silence and solidarity. the memories of last week will have been particularly raw for the metropolitan police officers. a group who had lost a one of their own. they recalled the sacrifice of pc keith palmer. this afternoon is about remembering the victims of last week's events. our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who was affected
by the events last week. it was a moment of calm after the chaos here of exactly one week ago. it was also a united front against the horror and violence of the attack. today, inquests opened into the deaths of three of those killed. it was also announced there would be two separate reviews of security following the westminster attack. but this afternoon was about an act of remembrance, a chance for londoners to stand together. ijust i just passed the ijust passed the flowers on parliament square earlier. lots of flowers in memory of those killed, and some putting messages. let's talk about the day at westminster. eleanor garnier is here. fascinating to read the letter. what did you
pull out of it? i think the tone was extremely interesting. yes there will be tough talking in these negotiations. everyone needs to lay out their bottom lines. clearly theresa may today trying to seem more conciliatory. she wants to get off on the best foot possible. that definitely came across. she talked about a deep and special relationship a number of times in the letter. but also in a statement in the house of commons. one thing thatis in the house of commons. one thing that is raising a few eyebrows is theissue that is raising a few eyebrows is the issue of security. it is not entirely new. she has mentioned it before. let me read you what he said. in terms of security, a failure to reach agreement would mean oui’ failure to reach agreement would mean our cooperation in the fight against crime and terrorism would be weakened. european parliament said today, we are not going to accept a scenario where you say we can talk about trade but if you don't talk about trade but if you don't talk about trade but if you don't talk about trade in the right way, we will take our security away. you deal with one issue at a time?
definitely some people see that as a threat. the issue is the policing agency that the uk put a lot of intelligence into. the government is simply saying, if we are not part of the eu and there isn't a deal reached, we will take our information out. it has raised some eyebrows. thank you. plenty more to come from here in westminster. let's tech on the weather. hello. we have more cloud and rain tonight. some warm sunshine for some tomorrow. the rain across northern and western areas in italy. heavy rain across scotland. we could see a burst of february and in the south—west heading into the midlands later. a lot of cloud. a mild night for the time of the year. this rain should pull away from the midlands, lincolnshire. already brightening in the south—east. that brighter weather will spill north across much of england and wales as the rain
becomes focused across scotland and areas near the irish sea. as we get some brighter conditions, temperatures will shoot up, possibly as high as 22 degrees. even further north and west with the cloud. more rain on friday. the wettest weather in scotland. the weather front fairly weak. behind it, fresh air. temperature is still pretty good. 17 quite likely. it will feel pleasant in the sunshine. hello, this is bbc news with martine croxall. the headlines: the prime minister has officially triggered britain's exit from the european union, saying the government was following the democratic will of the british people. britain is leaving the european union. we are going to make our own decisions and our own laws. we are going to take control of the things
that matter most to us. britain's ambassador in brussels handed over the letter to the president of the european council at lunchtime today. so, here it is. six pages... donald tusk said he missed the uk already, and promised to defend the remaining 27 member states in the negotiations. there is no reason to pretend this is a happy day. neither in brussels nor in london. in other news, a week on from the terror attack in westminster, a vigil has been held to remember the victims. hello, and welcome to an ask this brexit special. theresa may has finally fired the starting gun on the process of britain leaving the eu.