EU Council President meets British PM over Brexit

EU Council President, Donald Tusk (L) and British PM, Theresa May

The European Council President, Donald Tusk has met the British Prime Minister, Theresa May to discuss the next steps on Brexit.

“The ball is now in your court,” Mr Tusk told her at Downing Street on Thursday.

He said the other 27 member states were waiting to see when the UK would formally trigger its departure from the EU.

“It is in everyone’s interest for this to start as soon as possible,’’ Mr Tusk stated.

Smooth Brexit
Mrs May said she wanted a smooth Brexit process.

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.

“This is the position shared by all 27 member states. 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,’’ Mr Tusk, who oversaw the UK’s EU renegotiation attempts prior to the in/out referendum told Mrs May.

The PM has said the government would not reveal its hand amid pressure to set out what it wants to achieve from the negotiations.

Both leaders met to know each other ahead of those talks.

The meeting comes as EU leaders, excluding the UK, prepare to meet next week in Bratislava to sketch out the bloc’s future after Brexit.

They were also expected to discuss trade, migration, Russian sanctions and the Ukraine.

EU exit process
The UK government has said it does not plan to kick-start the formal two-year EU exit process until the start of 2017 at the earliest, to give it time to prepare its negotiating position.

Mrs May refused to give a running commentary on the Brexit process and pledged to think through the issues in a sober and considered way.

“So we will not take decisions until we are ready. We will not reveal our hand prematurely and we will not provide a running commentary on every twist and turn of the negotiation,” she told MPs on Wednesday.

After Thursday’s talks, the prime minister is chairing a cabinet subcommittee on Britain’s exit from the EU which will focus on trade.

New trade deal
It comes after Australia and the UK began preliminary discussions about a new trade deal, with Australian trade minister Steven Ciobo predicting an agreement between the countries at the right time. But with the UK unable to sign deals while still in the EU, he said an agreement would not be able to happen until the UK left the EU in two-and-a-half years’ time.

Mrs May says India, Mexico, South Korea and Singapore are also keen to remove trade barriers.

Brexit Secretary, David Davis has predicted a round of global trade deals which would be fully negotiated within 12 to 24 months, coming into force when the UK leaves the EU.

Mercy Chukwudiebere