a very warm welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to our viewers in north america and around the globe. my name's tom donkin. our top stories: signed, sealed and delivered — now the hard part begins — britain formally triggers brexit and the prime minister says there's no turning back. europe's message to the uk — we're ready for negotiations but it's not a happy moment. we already miss you. thank you and goodbye. south korea's ousted—president in court — prosecutors are seeking the arrest of park geun—hye over a long—running corruption scandal. leading democrats and republicans in the us senate say they'll work together to establish any russian interference in the presidential election. and a global football star immortalised in bronze — own goal, or work of art? you decide. hello and welcome.
the united kingdom has formally given notice that it's leaving the european union. a letter — signed by theresa may — was handed to the president of the european council. the prime minister said she wanted a smooth and orderly brexit. but, the german chancellor angela merkel has warned that the terms of britain's divorce have to be settled before any talks on trade can begin. our political editor laura kuenssberg starts our coverage. 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 inside 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 the negotiations ahead. it is a plan for a new, deep and special partnership between britain and the european union. in perhaps the most important letter that she'll ever pen, the prime minister wrote of her hope to give reassurance quickly to the millions of eu citizens who live here and brits abroad. "we should always put our citizens first, we should aim to strike an early agreement about their rights." 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 continent from new rules and barriers. there was 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. # everyone unite as brothers... yet it was almost a wake for others. and 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. in a rare interview inside number 10 for the bbc, the prime minister promised, despite all the difficulties, 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 can 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.
laura kuenssberg, bbc news, westminster. the president of the european council, donald tusk, said the remaining member states would pull together during the talks. and he confirmed he would set out his planned negotiating guidelines on friday ahead of a special summit next month. with her assessment of the view at the heart of the eu, here's our europe editor katya adler. the man with the burning letter in his briefcase. good 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 represent all eu member states here in brussels. there is nothing to win in this process, and i'm talking about both sides. this is about damage control. european commission president jean—claude juncker was also down in the mouth. i'm sad. i'm deeply sad. but beneath that sadness, palpable resentment among some eu leaders today that theresa may appeared in her letter to link the likelihood of a good trade deal, so hoped for by britain, with continued cooperation on security, so needed by the eu. i think that irrespective of what an agreement can be, what sort of agreement you can do on trade at the end of the day, we remain part of the same family and we should remain committed to fighting terrorism.
so what now? well, the european commission is the lead negotiator for the eu when it comes to brexit. frans timmermans is the commission's 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. that 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's what we all do. so what's 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 careful analysis of theresa may's letter. there can be no future settlement if we are not 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 for 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 the future trade deal. they don't and won't always agree with one another. and the article 50 time frame is very, very tight. divisions there may be, but when it comes to the loaded issue of parallel trade and divorce talks, europe's most powerful leader agrees with the european commission. much to downing street's dismay. translation: in the negotiations we first have to sort out how we can untangle ourselves from one another. only when that has been settled, hopefully soon after, we can speak about our future relationship. 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. katya adler, bbc news, brussels. the brexit clock started ticking from the moment the letter was delivered to brussels, and the parties will have two years to conclude negotiations on britain's exit. so what happens next? on friday the european council will set out its proposals for the negotiations to come. a month later at a special eu summit the other 27 member states will debate — and then be asked to approve those proposals. the talking will then start, but big decisions may have to wait till after the french and german elections held in may and september. the negotiations should finish by october next year when the uk and eu parliaments would both vote on the final deal. that's the plan — but the path ahead is uncertain and there are no precedents for it. our diplomatic correspondent james robbins has been looking at the challenges ahead as the negotiations get under way.
the europe which britain married into over a0 years ago looked and felt quite different. just nine states in a predominantly economic community. steadily membership grew, the ties that bind reached further and further across europe. the project became more political, the union ever deeper, until british voters opted for divorce. but that very complexity makes cutting the ties and agreeing the divorce terms fu namentally difficult. the divorce rule, the famous article 50, was written by veteran diplomat lord kerr, so i asked him to describe the scale of the challenge now facing britain. this is the biggest event in our post—war history. if you're building a transition you need to know where you are going to end up. if you're building a bridge, where is it going to land on the other side? so we have to be clear about what kind of country we're going to become. when the brexit negotiations eventually begin, around the table the key players will be led
on the british side by david davis, the cabinet minister in charge of exiting the european union. he will try to ensure the bargaining settles both the divorce and the new framework for future relations with the eu. facing him on the eu side, michel barnier, former french foreign minister, with his team representing the commission and the remaining 27 member states. time is already very short to agree so much. some think the crunch will come in autumn next year. they have a vast agenda to work through. here are just a handful of the issues. the rights of eu citizens living in the uk and of british nationals now living in the eu. the uk's future access, if any, to the single market, with the uk controlling its own borders and immigration. and then the big question of the divorce bill. some say the uk may be required to pay over £50 billion. britain's longest serving official inside the european commission, jonathan faull, says a bargain will have to be struck. the uk can't duck
its responsibilities. the fundamental principle is a very simple one. it is that the eu, with the uk in it, has made financial commitments that have to be met. and some of those commitments stretch well into the future. investment projects, infrastructure projects and so on. arguably the most important issue to be resolved will be britain's post—brexit trade with the eu, and notjust in goods. securing the city of london and britain's enormous trade in financial services could be even harder. all this worries some, but not leading pro—leavers. now, of course, as we go into the negotiations, both sides will try and pretend they're in the strongest position, but the government's got some key cards in its hands. not least the fact we've got a huge trade deficit with the eu. so i think the government will be able to leave the single market, leave the customs union and get the free trade deal they want.
that's just one confident assertion about to be tested in the crucible of hard bargaining. in the negotiations, cutting many uk/eu ties while trying to hang onto others will be difficult. both britain and the eu say they want to remain friends after the divorce. but the process could get very rough. james robbins, bbc news. stay with us on bbc news, still to come: the statue of cristiano ronaldo that's hit the headlines and gained its own twitter account. the accident that happened here was of the sort that can at worst produce a meltdown. in this case the precautions worked, but they didn't work quite well enough to prevent some old fears about the safety features of these stations from resurfacing. the republic of ireland has become the first country in the world to
ban smoking in the workplace. from today, anyone lighting up in offices, businesses, pubs and restaurants will face a heavy fine. the president was on his way out of the washington hilton hotel, where he had been addressing a trade union conference. the small crowd outside included his assailant. it has become a symbol of paris. 100 years ago, many parisians wished it had never been built. the eiffel tower's birthday is being marked by a re—enactment of the first ascent by gustave eiffel. this is bbc news. i'm tom donkin. the latest headlines: britain starts the process of severing its ties with the european union as theresa may formally triggers brexit and says there's no turning back. the european council president sends a message to the uk, "thank you and goodbye,
now we're ready for two years of tough negotiations." south korea's ousted president park geun—hye is currently in court at a hearing which will decide herfate. our correspondent stephen evans is outside the building and earlier he told me ms park looked nervous as she arrived for questioning. she is a plain citizen now but it was still a motorcade of limos, four limos, the streets had been cleared, protesters have still had a bit of a kerfuffle outside court, but actually more noise than numbers. the prosecution will argue, and is arguing, that the seriousness of the allegations means that she should be in prison pending her trial, just as the other principal characters in this alleged scandal are. remember, the nub of the scandal is that she persuaded the head of samsung and other big conglomerates to give millions of dollars to her best friend and in return put the weight
of the government behind the donors. that's the allegation. —— of the government behind the donors‘ businesses. the donor and the recipient in the alleged scandal are both behind bars pending trial. so the argument will be that she should be the same — that she should have the same treatment. and, steve, the viewers can probably hear the protest is just off camera. we certainly saw them when she left her home to arrive at the district court. a lot of protest supporters not having any of this, are they, they say this is all politically motivated. yes, they say it is politically motivated and basically they say whatever she may have done, and she denies all crimes, whatever she has done it doesn't merit the sacking of the president. in other words, that the alleged crimes are not serious enough to merit her sacking.
but the weight of opinion in this country, i think, is against her, certainly hurt approval ratings were very, very low. and there is a bigger problem here — pretty well every president of this country in the democratic era has ended up with corruption allegations swirling around. one ex—president ended upjumping into a ravine to his death, pursued, people would say, by the prosecutors. so there is the big picture of a way of doing business in government and the individual allegations. but the defenders of this country would say this is democracy. you've got a protest outside the court and a plain citizen inside the court answering judges. let's round—up some of the other main stories: 12 people have died in south—western texas after a head—on collision between a pickup truck and a van. three others have also been injured. police say the van was carrying fourteen senior members of a local
church returning from a three—day retreat. two former aides to chris christie, the republican governor of newjersey, have been sent to prison for their role in a political revenge plot dubbed "bridge gate." bill baroni and bridget kelly were given terms of two years and 18 months respectively for their role in closing traffic lanes on a busy new york bridge. the scandal derailed mr christie's presidential ambitions. severe weather is continuing to reek havoc in the australian state the politicalfocus in washington remains on the investigations into russian involvement in the us election, and whether the trump campaign was involved. the chairman of a senate intelligence committee looking into the matter says they have asked 20 people to be questioned. among them, the president's son—in—lanared kushner. the top democrat on that same committee says there is no question about russia's motives.
russia's goal, vladimir putin's goal, is a weaker united states, weaker economically, weaker globally — and they should be a concern to all americans regardless of political affiliation. laura bicker has the latest from washington. there were two separate investigations going on in the two political chambers in congress. one's already going on in the house but this is the upper chamber, almost the big boys, so to speak, and both the democrats and republicans very importantly stood side—by—side in that press conference as they announced they had called 20 witnesses. now, those witnesses will include president donald trump's son—in—law jared kushner, his former campaign manager paul manafort. now, they are alleged to have met with the russian ambassador during the latter half of 2016 during the campaign, so they will be questioned about that but this is all relating and trying to find alleged ties between the kremlin and donald trump's campaign and it
runs in tandem with the fbi's current investigation. but this is a political investigation and certainly, when it comes to politics, the parallel investigation down in the house seems to be falling apart. the open hearings are no longer being held and there are accusations between the democrats and the republicans, and, in fact, house democrats have called for the chairman of that committee to stand down after he met with an intelligence aide in the white house, talking about whether or not donald trump had been wiretapped or under wider surveillance. so, various counter claims going on in the lower half. up in the senate this enquiry and the hearings will start in just 2a hours‘ time. that was the bbc‘s laura bicker. science and the environment has had a tough week
with the news on tuesday that president trump signed an order rolling back some of his predecessor's environmental policies. experts say that will take the us back a step in meeting global targets. so what is the scientific community to do? well, nada tawfik takes a look. scientists and their process are under attack. and that's really terrifying. science has made a new discovery that you can ignore politics but it will not ignore you. we're going to cancel the paris climate agreement. we will stop giving money to these un global warming programmes. the american public and perhaps the public of the world really do feel like their world views are not being reflected. the government is doubting the facts. conservative voters particularly concerned scientists. trust in research is at a a0 year low. how can scientists change that? i would love to see 20%
of congress made up of scientists and engineers. and i think we would have a very different approach to governing if we did have that. rather than waiting for a seat at the table, they're going after it. this woman started the political action committee to help scientists run for office. it can be difficult for a scientist to talk to the public. we are trying to help facilitate that as well. how many would actually be interested? it turns out a lot. 3000 have already signed up for training. we have a lot of people in congress right now. and the government in general went straight into policy without any expertise in the area whatsoever. we need more politicians that go off on a track with expertise in an area, whether it is medicine, science, agriculture, anything! and then come in with that knowledge and be able to make sound policy for the public. that is the long game. but it puts science
at the centre of the political conversation right now, they are taking a page from the women's march. it is a bit embarrassing that it took so long for people to mobilise. things got much more dramatic in the last month. caroline turned to twitter to organise a march in aprilfor science. in just four hours, ten followers turned into 40,000, and now over 220 cities are planning marches of their own. it would be great to have an enormous crowd. what is important is it is not just about politicians and representatives seeing it, but the people doing the march and the idea that you are surrounded by people who have heard these concerns about the lack of evidence—based policy. there is no power like the power of the people! in a rare honour for a football player, the portuguese striker cristiano ronaldo has had the airport on his home island of madeira named after him.
however, it was his rather odd—looking statue that attracted most of the attention at the unveiling ceremony, as our reporter sarah corker explains. he is one of the world's most successful footballers, the real madrid and portable —— portugal star honoured for his good looks. cristiano ronaldo is a local hero in madeira. on the island of madeira he is a local hero and in tribute to his success the airport has been named after him with a new statue unveiled. but this probably wasn't quite the likeness he was expecting. unfazed by the bulging eyes of the bust behind him he thanked the regional government for this new tribute. but social media hasn't been quite so kind. football fans said it looks more like former republic of ireland
captain niall quinn than ronaldo. another wrote... one fan said... and another statue again in ronaldo's hometown has also been the subject of ridicule. across—the—board there are ronaldo waxworks, monuments, cartoons, figurines. it took 15 days to make this bust. the artist says he hasn't spoken to ronaldo yet but looks forward to getting his feedback. let's hope the image conscious star sees the funny side. doesn't look like he minds much. goodbye. hi there.
mixed weather fortunes for today's weather picture. for some, the warmest day of the year so far. for others it will be cloudy, damp and breezy. western areas will have rain today. rain coming from the south and west. across eastern areas of england, the air has been coming up from the near continent, and that is going to be bringing temperatures into the low 20s in the warmest spots. as i say, the warmest day of the year so far. a mild start to the day, then, for many of us with temperatures staying in double figures, 11 to 12 degrees as we start off. always the risk of some pulses of rain affecting northern ireland. western areas of scotland looking pretty wet. and maybe for cumbria as well. and in fact there will be some further pulses of rain coming and going across these western areas through the day on and off really through the rest of the day. for the east, after a rather cloudy start to things, things will brighten up with some hazy sunshine coming through. now, in scotland, south—western
areas the warmest. dumfrees and galloway. not too much rain towards the murray coastline. here there could be some brighter spells coming through. northern ireland, rain. there or therabouts for much of the day. but there will be some drier spells from time to time. western england and wales also prone to seeing some pulses of rain even into the afternoon. but further east, that's where we've got the warm sunshine. the sunshine will be hazy. we could see temperatures pushing up to 22 around degrees in the warmest spots. now, during the evening and overnight, there will be some more wet weather coming across western areas of the uk. the rain turning more persistent and heavier. there'll be some rather murky conditions developing over the hills as well with some mist and hillfog patches. but it wil be another mild night. temperatures 11—12 degrees for many of us. let's take a look at friday's weather picture. well, low pressure is in charge. we're going to see a band of rain moving its way north and east through the morning. then the weather will try to improve as we head through the afternoon. so northern ireland brightening up. there'll be some sunshine spreading across much of england and wales. southern areas of scotland too by the end of the day. but it will turn quite windy
for northern scotland later on. never that warm across the far north. but in the sunshine, temperatures pushing well into the teens. pretty mild for the time of year. and for the weekend, wel, it's an unsettled start to things on saturday. a mixture of bright spells and passing showers. temperatures between 12 and 16 degrees celsius. the winds tending to be quite light. so if you do catch a shower they could be qith you for quite some time. showers will be killed off. we will look at a decent kind of day on sunday. starting off perhaps a little on the cool side. cooling off in the afternoon. perhaps one or two passing showers for the north and west of the uk. temperatures reaching a high of 17 towards the south—east. and that's your weather. the latest headlines from bbc news. european leaders have rejected a british government plan for the two sides to agree the terms of britain's status outside the eu, at the same time as negotiating its departure. the president of the european parliament warned britain not to take any unilateral action before it leaves the bloc in 2019.
after 44 years together, britain officially started the process of severing its ties with the european union. in a letter notifying the eu of brexit, the prime minister praised european values and insisted that britain can keep its trade benefits with the eu, even after it has left. the ousted south korean president, park geun—hye, has arrived in court for a hearing that will decide whether to approve an arrest warrant against her over corruption allegations. if the court approves the request, park will be immediately detained. let's have a quick look at some of the front pages of tomorrow's papers. the telegraph reports jubilation as article 50 is triggered,