The divorce between the United Kingdom and the European Union has officially begun. Tuesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May signed the letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which allows a member to leave the union.

Wednesday morning, British Ambassador to the EU Sir Tim Burrow handed the letter to Tusk.

The UK now has two years to leave the EU.

The Letter & Delivery

In her letter, May assured Tusk that the UK will remain part of Europe, but wants to “restore, as we see it, our national self-determination.”

Burrow handed the letter to Tusk this morning:

So Now What?

NO ONE knows what happens next because no one has ever triggered the obscure Article 50 clause in the Lisbon Treaty, which gives member states a way out of the EU.

The UK and the EU have until March 2019 to agree on a settlement. If they cannot agree, the UK leaves with nothing.

May can ask and plead all she wants for smooth sailing out of the EU, but it may not happen. The EU has expressed a great deal of displeasure over losing one of the foundation nations of the bloc:

May said Britain’s aim was to reach a deal on divorce terms and a new relationship within the two years — something EU officials say is unlikely. May conceded Wednesday that there would have to be a “phased process of implementation.”

Brexit Secretary David Davis — the man charged with leading Britain’s side in the talks — has called it “the most complicated negotiation in modern times, maybe the most complicated negotiation of all time.”

Tusk has said that within 48 hours he will respond with a draft negotiating guidelines for the remaining 27 member states to consider. Leaders of those nations will then meet on April 29 to finalize their negotiating platform before instructing the EU’s chief negotiator, French diplomat Michel Barnier.

May will “publish details of her plans to transfer EU law into U.K. law” on Thursday. Tusk has 48 hours “to send draft guidelines to the 27 remaining capitals framing the talks from the EU’s side.” The EU will probably agree on those guidelines when they meet in Brussels on April 29.

Once the EU agrees on the guidelines, the governments and the European Commission “will likely take several weeks to set a detailed negotiating mandate for Michel Barnier, the EU’s Brexit negotiator.”

Negotiations should officially start in late May.

May Speaks to Parliament

May spoke to the House of Commons as Burrow handed the letter to Tusk in Brussels, Belgium. In her speech, she reaffirms that the UK cannot tun back now and the UK holds its destiny in its own hands:

‘The Article 50 process is now underway. 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 are going to make our own decisions and our own laws. We are going to take control of the things that matter most to us. And we are going to take this 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 That is what this Government is determined to do.

Without the EU controlling the country, the UK can finally make trade agreements based on their needs and wants:

‘Because European Leaders have said many times that we cannot ‘cherry pick’ and remain members of the Single Market without accepting the four freedoms that are indivisible. We respect that position. And as accepting those freedoms is incompatible with the democratically expressed will of the British People, we will no longer be members of the Single Market.

‘We are going to make sure that we can strike trade agreements with countries from outside the European Union too. Because important though our trade with the EU is and will remain, it is clear that the UK needs to increase significantly its trade with the fastest growing export markets in the world.

How Does This Affect America?

The UK has remained one of our closest allies, but Brexit could bring us closer. USA Today listed a few ways the change could affect us.

First, the British pound has lost value since the British voted to leave the EU last summer, meaning more affordable travel to Britain, plus a drop in British exports. That includes delicious Twinings tea!

As stated above in May’s speech, the alliance between the UK and America could grow stronger:

British Prime Minister Theresa May and President Trump have talked about negotiating a new trade deal that benefits both countries. In addition, Britain, a key U.S. military partner, may be more eager to team up with American forces to deal with conflict zones once it is free of the EU, which generally tilts toward a non-intervention stance in foreign affairs.

Nigel Farage, the main supporter of Brexit, said the US and the UK could easily come up with a new trade deal by the end of the year:

“If the British government went to Trump today and said right, let’s crack on, I think that certainly by the end of this year if not a considerable time before, a trade deal could be done,” he said.

“But the problem is we are not allowed to, because Mr. (Jean-Claude) Juncker [president of the European Commission] says we can’t do it until we have left the European Union,” said Farage outside Westminster.

He is 100% correct. When I covered Ukraine/Russia full time, I grew to despise the EU because I realized just how much sovereignty participating countries lost. For example, individual countries could not pass sanctions against Russia. There were some countries who wanted stronger sanctions against Russia, but lost the debate because the EU collective voice overruled them. Other nations did not want a lot of sanctions, but also had to comply. The EU nations had to comply with EU rules. Farage continued:

“The White House is very positive about the Anglo-American relationship in terms of trade, in terms of security, in terms of defense,” he said.

“They look on with incredulity that a British prime minister is told by a Brussels based bureaucrat that we are not allowed to sign a deal,” he said.

Of course, without the UK in the EU, America has lost a valuable source to tell us “about the inner workings of the alliance.” At the same time, though, the UK now has the freedom to work closer with America on international security and not worry about the EU overruling decisions.