Today the PM triggered Article 50 and the UK formally began the process of leaving the European Union. For some this will be a moment of great celebration, for others bitter regret. Bridging this gap is now one of the most biggest jobs the Prime Minister and Government must address.
I have always said we must honour the result of the referendum. If we weren't willing to do this then we shouldn't have held it. I think the Lib-Dems and others are heavily mistaken and quite cynical to propose holding another referendum in the hope that next time it gives them the result they want. Democracy means sometimes you're on the losing side. You have to accept it and move on.
From the many meetings and events I have been at since the vote, particularly relating to the financial services sector as part of my frontbench brief, I do think there is a mutually beneficial deal to be had. It's not a zero sum game between us and the EU. The Government need to get their act together and deliver this - and there must be no excuses or attempts to diminish workers' rights, product standards or environmental protection in the UK.
We must also acknowledge there will be costs. At the very least we will need considerable investment in our customs systems and in the bureaucracy to deal with immigration and visas from the rest of the EU. It is clear there will not be another £350m a week available for the NHS.
One surprise in the letter to the EU was the explicit linking by the PM between the trade negotiations and the UK contributing to security in Europe. It was a fairly transparent threat and I think this is a mistake. Our national interest lies in a secure Europe through NATO. That should be sacrosanct and distinct from our exit negotiations with the EU. It may have unnecessarily generated bad faith on the first day of the process.
My work in Parliament will now focus on holding the Government to account for the deal they now need to negotiate. In particular, they must confirm as soon as possible transitional arrangements so that UK financial services do not begin to leave the country simply because they have no other information on which to make decisions on. They do not want to do is - but they understandably need confirmation that they will legally be able to continue to do business from the UK.
I also think we need to be mindful that the rest of the EU will need to ratify our exit deal. I asked the Prime Minister to confirm her understanding of that process in the House of Commons today.