THERESA May arrived Wednesday in Berlin on her first international trip as Britain’s Prime Minister for relationship-building talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that she hopes will help smooth “Brexit” negotiations.
May will follow her Berlin trip with a visit to Paris for talks Thursday with French President Francois Hollande. She is expected to tell both leaders that Britain seeks time to prepare for the negotiations, according to a statement from 10 Downing Street.
The working dinner between two of the world’s most powerful women will be the second major test of May’s premiership Wednesday, a week after she assumed the country’s top job, BBC said.
Earlier in the day, May made her debut at Prime Minister’s Questions in Parliament, fielding questions from lawmakers. During the session, she reiterated her commitment to Britain leaving the European Union, following the vote to do so in a referendum last month.
But although the country is leaving the EU, May said, “The United Kingdom is not leaving Europe.
“I’m very clear, Brexit does mean Brexit,” she said.
“We will make a success of it. What we need to do in negotiating the deal is ensure that we listen to what people have said about the need for controls on free movement. But we also negotiate the right deal, and the best deal for the trade of goods and services for the British people.”
She also stressed that Britain should not be limited by focusing exclusively on its relationship with its European neighbors but should instead look to build ties throughout the world.
Following the June 23 vote to leave the EU, Britain now faces a complicated process of negotiations to remove itself from the bloc.
EU leaders have said they will not enter into formal exit negotiations with Britain until it triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which officially kicks off the exit process and opens a two-year window for negotiating the departure. They have urged Britain to move swiftly.
But the British government does not plan to trigger Article 50 before the end of the year, the country’s High Court heard this week.
Officials will need time to consult with the governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as with various industry sectors, to work out the UK’s objectives for the negotiations, according to a statement from 10 Downing Street.
Both Scotland and Northern Ireland, constituent countries within the United Kingdom, voted in the referendum to remain in the EU, and the vote to leave has revived talk in both countries of leaving the UK instead.