MP and UKIP welcome Article 50 announcement

But pro-EU group brands Prime Minister Theresa May 'irresponsible'

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STRATFORD-ON-AVON’S MP Nadhim Zahawi has welcomed confirmation of the date Prime Minister Theresa May will trigger Article 50 to begin Britain’s exit from the EU next week.

Downing Street said on Monday that the UK’s Permanent Representative to the European Union, Sir Tim Barrow, had informed European Council president, Donald Tusk, of the UK’s intention to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty next Wednesday, 29th March 29.

Mr Zahawi, who was pro-Brexit, said: “I am delighted that the Prime Minister, after having secured the necessary authorisation from Parliament, will now begin the negotiation process of leaving the EU for which a majority of the British people voted in June of last year.

“I have every confidence that our Prime Minister will secure the best deal possible for the whole of the UK.”

Asked back in January what he thought would constitute a ‘good deal’, Mr Zahawi said it would involve ‘an ambitious free trade deal with the EU, control over immigration, control over our laws, and an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK, protection of workers’ rights, the securing of rights for EU nationals in the UK, and UK nationals in the EU, a soft border with the Republic of Ireland, free trade deals with other countries, cooperation with our European neighbours in science, innovation and research, and working with the EU to tackle crime and terrorism’.

Edward Fila, chairman of Stratford UKIP, also welcomed the announcement, but added: “UKIP would ask why it has taken her so long?

Herald deputy editor, Chris Smith, quizzes Stratford-on-Avon MP, Nadhim Zahawi, on, among other things, Brexit back in January. Photo: Mark Williamson.

“The country voted to Leave in June 2016 and although we understand that the government have been preparing their position prior to this announcement, we feel there was no good reason for such a delay.

“As Nigel Farage has indicated on a number of occasions, the declaration could have been made immediately after June 2016 thus negating the political posturing we have had to listen to from the Remain side.

Edward Fila, chairman of UKIP.

“We sincerely hope the country will get behind the government in bringing about a successful exit.”

Jonathan Baker, chairman of recently-formed pro-EU group Stratford4Europe, said: “It seems completely irresponsible that Theresa May is about to trigger the most important decision this country has made in decades without any clear plan or clue where we are headed.

“She says she is ‘delivering on what the British people voted for’.  The people may have voted to leave the EU but there was nothing on the ballot paper about wishing to break up the UK or about wanting to crash out of the EU with disastrous consequences for not just a generation, but for future generations to come.”

Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, said Monday’s announcement meets the UK’s longstanding commitment to trigger Article 50 by the end of March 2017.

He added: “Last June, the people of the UK made the historic decision to leave the EU. Next Wednesday, the government will deliver on that decision and formally start the process by triggering Article 50.

“We are on the threshold of the most important negotiation for this country for a generation.

“The government is clear in its aims: a deal that works for every nation and region of the UK and indeed for all of Europe – a new, positive partnership between the UK and our friends and allies in the European Union.”