The formal notification to the other 27 European Union members of Britain’s intention to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty was signed by May at her 10 Downing Street office on Tuesday night.
May’s letter was delivered to the European Council in Brussels by UK’s ambassador to EU, Tim Barrow. The letter stated the country’s intention to initiate a two-year negotiation process for its exit. Barrow met with European Council President Donald Tusk to hand over the letter.
After the letter was handed over, May addressed the House of Commons, informing it that Brexit negotiations had been triggered.
“This will be a defining moment for our country, as we begin to forge a new relationship with Europe & a new role for ourselves in the world,” said May.
Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party respected the decision to leave the EU and would hold the government to account “every step of the way”.
Following the notification process, the Great Repeal Bill will be published in Parliament to cover the political break from the economic bloc.
On Friday, European Council will come out with the negotiating guidelines which will make the course of the so-called “divorce” proceedings for Britain’s exit clearer.
The Brexit negotiator on the EU side, Michel Barnier, has said he would like to wrap up the process by September 30, 2018, leaving enough time for it to be ratified by the European Parliament.
The notification of Article 50 marks the first formal step in the direction of Brexit after a referendum in June 2016 in favour of Britain leaving the EU.
Article 50 gives both sides two years to reach agreement, so unless both sides agree to extend the deadline for talks, the UK will have left the EU on March 29, 2019.
(With inputs from agencies)