PM tells other leaders formal process to leave EU will not begin this year


Theresa May has told two of her European counterparts Britain will not begin the formal process for leaving the European Union this year, Downing Street said.

The Prime Minister said she would not trigger Article 50 before 2017 to provide time for the UK and EU nations to prepare "properly" for negotiations to ensure a "smooth and orderly" Brexit.

She made the commitment in phone calls with Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte and Danish PM Lars-Lokke Rasmussen.

Mrs May told them she wanted to maintain strong individual relationships with EU countries and with the bloc as a whole after Britain pulls out.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: "The Prime Minister spoke by telephone yesterday to Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte, and to Danish prime minister Lars-Lokke Rasmussen.

"Both offered their congratulations on the Prime Minister's appointment, and said they looked forward to working together closely.

"In both calls, the Prime Minister explained that we are keen to approach negotiations for Britain's withdrawal from the European Union in a constructive and positive way.

"The Prime Minister said we would not be triggering Article 50 before the end of the year, which would provide time for both the UK and the remaining EU 27 to prepare properly for the negotiations, helping to ensure a smooth and orderly departure of the UK from the EU.

"The PM made clear that the UK wanted a positive relationship both with the EU and bilaterally with its member states after we had left the EU."