A South West MEP has warned there would be no ‘plain sailing’ towards a UK exit from the EU, as Prime Minister Theresa May formally triggered Article 50. 

Julie Girling, MEP for South West England and Gibraltar, said many challenges lay ahead, adding it would be ‘business as usual’ for MEPs as Brexit negotiations got underway.

“This is what we have been building up to since June 23 and I think for both sides it will probably be a relief once the face to face talks start,” said Mrs Girling.

“At last the phoney war is over. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and start negotiating and MEPS have an important role to play. We have detailed knowledge of Brussels’ inner-workings and have personal relationships with key people.”

She urged: “We must focus our energy where it will get the best results – but the negotiations will be both protracted and intricate.”

She said she was disappointed that Westminster had not asserted its right to have a final vote after the negotiation before the deal was put before the European Parliament.

“This makes it critical that MEPs are involved and are part of getting the right deal in the first place.”

Mrs Girling said  while negotiations were ongoing it would remain ‘business as usual’ for MEPs:  “We still need to do our jobs, and do them properly. It is upon us to try and maximise potentially helpful legislation and minimise any damaging legislation that might harm us in the mean time.”

She added: “As negotiations get underway, I am going to do all I can to provide a bridge between our Government and key figures in Brussels and the European Parliament in particular.

“There are so many unknowns, and we must not estimate the difficulties and challenges that lie ahead. I don’t believe in misleading people into thinking that this is going to be plain sailing.”

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