The UK triggered Article 50 today (29 March) thereby beginning the formal process of leaving the European Union. At 12.30pm, Sir Tim Barrow, the British Ambassador to the EU, handed Donald Tusk a letter signed by Theresa May signalling the UK's desire to begin formal divorce proceedings.
IBTimes UK covered the events as they unfolded including a highly charged Prime Minister's Questions on the day that the UK turned its back on 44 years of EU membership.
Here are some key explainers giving context to the historic moment:
- The key players in the UK negotiating team
- What is the difference between a hard and soft Brexit?
- Who is Sir Tim Barrow? The man delivering the Article 50 notice
OUR TOP STORIES FROM TODAY:
- City reaction: "Hard work starts here"
- Theresa May admits UK will lose influence
- Pound surges after Britain triggers Article 50
- EU Council President Donald Tusk says: "We miss you already"
- Full text of the Article 50 letter
- EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier says he is "ready"
- Corbyn warns May of "historic national failure"
AS IT HAPPENED:
- Theresa May finishes taking questions on her statement — all 113 of them
- Donald Tusk responds to the Article 50 letter
- May tells the Commons: "There can be no turning back"
- Article 50 has been triggered, Britain is leaving the EU
- UKIP Deputy Leader speaks to IBTimesUK in Westminster
- Protesters start gathering outside Parliament
- Watch Sir Tim Barrow arrive in Brussels carrying the Article 50 letter
We're about to wrap up this live blog. It was the day that the UK triggered Article 50 and embarked on what Theresa May said she hoped would be "a smooth and orderly" divorce from the EU.
Our final pieces come from Business Editor Gaurav Sharma and Senior Correspondent Roger Baird.
Guarav reports that, contrary to expectations, the price of gold fell slightly in the immediate aftermath of Britain's declaration.
Roger covers City reaction to the Article 50 notice including Institute of Directors' Stephen Martin's assessment that "now the real work begins".
Thanks for joining us and remember to stay tuned to IBTimesUK over the next 24 months as Britain and the EU attempt to establish a new formal relationship.
We will be covering every twist and turn from the worlds of politics and business.
UKIP Leader Paul Nuttall has issued a statement in response to the triggering of Article 50. His comments echo those of his deputy, Peter Whittle, who spoke to IBTimesUK earlier today.
Nuttall said: "Today the Government will finally act on the historic decision of the people of this country to leave the European Union.
"Finally, nine months after our vote the UK will formally inform the EU that we are leaving.
"UKIP is delighted that this is eventually happening. 24 years ago this party was formed to make this a reality, so it would be churlish to complain. We have been ignored, dismissed insulted and abused, but through determination and with good humour we fought on and we have succeeded.
"The nine months delay has, of course cost the taxpayer additional billions, and has allowed those who would block the democratic will of the people to do all they can to spread discord, but we are here now.
"While negotiations continue we will continue to be the 'guard dogs of Brexit', holding the Government's feet to the fire at home and our MEPs will be working to ensure our friends on the continent do not pull any fast ones.
"We will provide the political threat to ensure no backsliding takes place and ensure that Brexit does indeed mean Exit.
"With our six key tests we have set out a reasonable and clear position by which the Government's negotiations can be held to account.
"But today, for now, we wish the Government and the Prime Minister well.
"If they fail in this historic task, 17 million people are ready to act."
The Guardian is reporting that Angela Merkel has responded to the day's events. She said: "My wish is the Great Britain and the European remain close partners. Because for me the United Kingdom is and remains a part of Europe with which we have a lot in common, not least our common values.
"On the basis of these values, and with the help of fair rules we will strive for a balance of obligations and rights."
Our lead politics writer Ian Silvera has filed his main takeaway from May's speech today. Ian focuses on May's admission that Britain will "lose influence" outside the EU.
Our business desk have just passed across this analysis of London-listed companies' share prices in the wake of the Brexit referendum.
The analysis was provided by Hargreaves Lansdown and shows the firms suffering the heaviest fall in share price since the vote.
Theresa May has now finished taking questions from backbench MPs in response to her Article 50 statement. Speaker John Bercow notes that 113 of them took the opportunity to quiz the UK premier.
He said: "Can I thank the prime minister who has been with us for the last three hours and 21 minutes, and attending to this statement for the last two hours and 46 minutes. In the name of courtesy we ought to say a big 'thank you' to the prime minister."
North East Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg responded to May's statement with a typical flourish.
He told the Commons: "Does the prime minister recall the words of Francis Drake?
"'There must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the true glory.'
"May I wish her good luck and good fortune in her negotiations, until she comes to true glory and is welcomed back to this House as a 21st century Gloriana. "
Anti-Brexit protesters sing opera outside Parliament. Who knows, we might still be in the EU if they'd thought of doing that before the referendum.
Resolving the status of UK nationals living in the EU and vice versa is a top priority for negotiators on both sides of the Channel.
There are more British immigrants — or "expats" — living in Spain than anywhere else on the continent, many of them are elderly.
In January, IBTimesUK analysed ONS data on Britons living in the EU.
Watch Donald Tusk's immediate response to the Article 50 Letter. Ian Silvera has written about the EU President's statement, including his commitment to "damage control".
Yvette Cooper, former cabinet minister (and wife of dance star Ed Balls), has issued her response to the event.
She said: "The Prime Minister is right to say that 'in security terms a failure to reach agreement would mean our cooperation in the fight against crime and terrorism would be weakened'.
"But that means her willingness to walk away with no deal if she does not get the deal she wants would not only be wrong but dangerous. She should not be trying to use this as a bargaining chip in the negotiations.
"This is not a threat to the rest of Europe, it would be a serious act of self-harm. She should rule out now walking away with no security deal as our national security and public safety depend on it."
Theresa May's speech to the Commons was noted for lacking the "no deal is better than a bad deal" rhetoric that has previously been central to her position.
The BBC's Laura Kuenssberg tweets that there is no change in policy.
Britain's Brexit negotiators are unlikely to get down to business until late May or early June. Nick Timothy is expected to play a lead role in shaping the UK strategy.
There will be a new French president in place by then. Polls suggest it will be Emmanuel Macron, although Marine Le Pen will be hoping that the populist surge that provided Donald Trump and the Leave campaign with shock results will do the same for her.
The week ahead...
The government is tomorrow expected to publish a white paper on forthcoming legislative changes in the wake of triggering Article 50.
On Friday President Tusk will send a "guidelines" document to the remaining 27 member states. This will provide them with the EU's plans and aspirations for the negotiation process while emphasising unity.
IBTimesUK's Shane Croucher has been keeping his eye on social media as the day unfolds.
His conclusion: "Remainers aren't taking Brexit Day very well."
The British Chambers of Commerce have commented on the announcement that the UK has triggered Article 50.
They say: "Now that Brexit negotiations are set to begin, businesses across the UK and their trading partners in Europe want answers to practical questions, not political posturing.
"A pragmatic and grown-up dialogue on the real-world issues, rather than verbal volleys between London and Brussels, would give firms greater confidence over the next two years.
"In the early weeks of the negotiation process, businesses would like to see an effort to secure simultaneous exit and trade talks. Concluding exit and trade negotiations at the same time would moderate adjustment costs for UK businesses, and enable trade between UK and EU firms to continue with less disruption."
Nigel Farage is "thrilled" and says we have now "passed the point of no return".
Dan Cancian from our business desk reports that the pound has surged in the immediate aftermath of Theresa May's announcement to the House of Commons.
Meanwhile the Confederation of British Industry have released a statement, which reads: "This is a pivotal moment in our history and the time to be ambitious, level-headed and confident.
"It is in the interests of businesses across Europe to work together in absolute determination to make a success of Brexit."
German Foreign Minister Gabriel's message to the UK after the triggering of Article 50 is "Let's remain friends."
In August, Gabriel said that the UK could not expect to just "keep the nice things" of EU membership post-Brexit, and the EU risks going "down the drain" if more countries vote to leave.
Columnist James Bloodworth has called on Remainers to "stop sounding like they want Brexit Britain to fail" in his latest article for IBTimes UK.
Trades Union Congress General Secretary Frances O'Grady has called on Prime Minister Theresa May to get the "best Brexit deal for working people."
She said: "The best deal will guarantee that hardworking Brits keep their hard-won rights at work – and that in the years to come they won't miss out on new protections that Dutch, Spanish and German workers get. It must protect good jobs, with decent wages, by keeping our trade free from tariffs and unnecessary bureaucracy. And it must end the disgraceful uncertainty for workers from other EU nations who've made the UK their home.
"The Brexit deal will define Britain's future for a generation. We owe it to ourselves and our children to take the time needed to get it right."
IBTimes UK's Ian Silvera has a full report on Donald Tusk's 'thank you and goodbye' statement on the UK's triggering of Article 50.
The Confederation of British Industry has described the triggering of Article 50 as a "pivotal moment in the country's history."
Ahead of the June 23 referendum the CBI's director general, Carolyn Fairbairn, warned that leaving the EU would cause a serious shock to the UK economy,
Paul Drechsler, CBI President, said: "We welcome the Prime Minister's commitment to free trade and European values which should hearten those around the table and set a constructive tone at the start of the negotiations.
"This is a pivotal moment in our history and the time to be ambitious, level-headed and confident.
"It is in the interests of businesses across Europe to work together in absolute determination to make a success of Brexit
"Our shared aim must be to forge a mutually beneficial deal that delivers barrier-free trade and safeguards prosperity for all. The Prime Minister has recognised this."
He said securing "early wins" was essential.
"The first six months are crucial as the UK heads into these challenging and unprecedented negotiations. Securing some early wins is therefore vital to set us on the right path.
"Most welcome of all would be the immediate guarantee of the right to remain for EU citizens here and UK nationals in Europe, which all governments agree is desirable.
"Businesses will welcome the upfront commitment to an implementation period to rule out cliff-edges for firms on both sides of the Channel – though more detail will be needed. Meanwhile, we must work constructively to design a means to maintain some influence over regulations affecting UK businesses in our biggest market.
"And discussing new trading arrangements should go hand-in-hand with negotiating the UK's exit from the EU.
"It will be important to deliver on the commitment to include the devolved nations and all regions of the UK in the discussions."
"Business has a crucial role to play in making the economic case as the negotiations progress so we can be clear about the impact on real people, jobs and communities across the UK.
"We know there'll be a lot of noise, which is why the CBI will continue to work closely with the Government and our partners across Europe to ensure the economic case is heard loud and clear."
Gordon Brown has reacted to the triggering of Brexit. The former prime minister, who campaigned for the UK to remain part of the European Union, quipped in a talk at Cardiff University "The only things that have been moving forward this week in Britain are the clocks."