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'Dear President Tusk': Here is the letter that confirmed Britain is leaving the EU

The letter was signed by UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

THE UK AND the European Union must “work hard” to avoid a failure in Brexit negotiations, Prime Minister Theresa May said in the letter formally launching the process, calling it a “momentous” challenge.

May also called for talks on Britain’s exit and on future trade ties to be worked out “alongside” each other, although the EU has said the new trading relationship should only be discussed after Brexit is agreed.

In her letter, which was hand-delivered to EU president Donald Tusk in Brussels by Britain’s EU ambassador Tim Barrow, May struck a conciliatory tone and called for a new “bold and ambitious” free trade deal with the bloc.

She said she wanted a “deep and special partnership” that would take in both security and economic cooperation.

“Europe’s security is more fragile today than at any time since the end of the Cold War,” she said.

gif letter Source: gov.uk

Ireland

The letter made specific reference to relations with Ireland and the peace process, arguing that Brexit must not “harm the Republic of Ireland”.

The section in the letter about Ireland read:

In particular, we must pay attention to the UK’s unique relationship with the Republic of Ireland and the importance of the peace process in Northern Ireland.

The Republic of Ireland is the only EU member state with a land border with the United Kingdom. We want to avoid a return to a hard border between our two countries, to be able to maintain the Common Travel Area between us, and to make sure that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU does not harm the Republic of Ireland. We also have an important responsibility to make sure that nothing is done to jeopardise the peace process in Northern Ireland, and to continue to uphold the Belfast Agreement.

Failure

In the letter, May also said that both Britain and the EU “would of course cope” if the negotiations fall through and the two sides are forced to fall back on World Trade Organisation tariffs to trade with each other.

But she added: “It is not the outcome that either side should seek. We must therefore work hard to avoid that outcome.”

British business leaders have warned about the prospect of a “no deal” scenario and May had said in a speech in January that “no deal is better than a bad deal”.

© – AFP 2017 with reporting by Rónán Duffy

Read: ‘No turning back’: The UK has triggered Article 50 to leave the EU >

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