Article 50

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:35 pm on 29th March 2017.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 12:35 pm, 29th March 2017

Today, the Government act on the democratic will of the British people, and they act, too, on the clear and convincing position of this House. A few minutes ago in Brussels, the United Kingdom’s permanent representative to the EU handed a letter to the President of the European Council on my behalf confirming the Government’s decision to invoke article 50 of the treaty on European Union. The article 50 process is now under way 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. Britain is leaving the European Union. We will make our own decisions and our own laws, take control of the things that matter most to us, and take the opportunity to build a stronger, fairer Britain— a country that our children and grandchildren are proud to call home. That is our ambition and our opportunity, and it is what this Government are determined to do.

At moments such as these—great turning points in our national story—the choices that we make define the character of our nation. We can choose to say that the task ahead is too great. We can choose to turn our face to the past and believe that it cannot be done. Or we can look forward with optimism and hope, and believe in the enduring power of the British spirit. I choose to believe in Britain and that our best days lie ahead. I do so because I am confident that we have the vision and the plan to use this moment to build a better Britain.

Leaving the European Union presents us with a unique opportunity. It is this generation’s chance to shape a brighter future for our country—a chance to step back and ask ourselves what kind of country we want to be. My answer is clear: I want the United Kingdom to emerge from this period of change stronger, fairer, more united and more outward-looking than ever before. I want us to be a secure, prosperous, tolerant country, a magnet for international talent and a home to the pioneers and innovators who will shape the world ahead. I want us to be a truly global Britain: the best friend and neighbour to our European partners, but a country that reaches beyond the borders of Europe, too—[Interruption.]