Britain should begin formal negotiations on leaving the European Union as soon as possible, Donald Tusk, the president of the European council, has told the British prime minister.
Speaking after a breakfast in Downing Street, at which the pair discussed Britain’s future relationship with the other 27 EU member states, Tusk urged May to press ahead with triggering article 50 of the Lisbon treaty.
The ball is now in your court, he said, adding that the process should begin as soon as possible.
May has made clear that she won’t invoke article 50, which begins the formal process of negotiations, before the end of this year.
But with the uncertainty hanging over the future of the EU likely to dampen economic confidence, she is likely to face increasing pressure from her fellow leaders to make her plans clear.
Other EU leaders will meet in Bratislava next week – without Britain – to consider the way forward.
But Tusk made clear they could make little progress until article 50 had been triggered. It doesn’t mean that we are going to discuss our future relations with the UK in Bratislava, because for this – and especially for the start of the negotiations – we need the formal notification, I mean triggering article 50, he said.
This is the position shared by all 27 member states. To put it simply, the ball is now in your court. I’m aware that it is not easy but I still hope you will be ready to start the process as soon as possible.
I have no doubt that at the end of the day our common strategic goal is to establish the closest possible relations.
With the summer recess in Westminster over, the government is gearing up for the challenge of taking Britain out of the EU, but May gave little away about her intentions in the House of Commons on Wednesday, insisting that her government would not give a running commentary on the issue.
She has made clear that controls on immigration will have to be a key element of any deal, but she doesn’t favour the points-based system advocated by many pro-Brexit campaigners in the run-up to the referendum.
It is also unclear whether May believes Britain can remain a member of the single market after leaving. The Brexit secretary, David Davis, who was asked if Britain could remain inside the single market, said earlier this week: The simple truth is that if a requirement of membership is giving up control of our borders, I think that makes it very improbable.
But the prime minister’s spokeswoman subsequently indicated that Davis was setting out his opinion rather than making a statement of government policy – underlining the tensions that could emerge between the pro-remain prime minister and the Brexiters she has put in charge of negotiating Britain’s departure.
May has also insisted that she does not see the need for a parliamentary vote to ratify a decision to trigger article 50.
News Source TheGuardianNews