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We want to stay friends with Europe, insists PM Theresa May

By Sam Lister

Published 21/07/2016

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May during a welcoming ceremony at the Chancellery in Berlin
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May during a welcoming ceremony at the Chancellery in Berlin

Theresa May insisted that Brexit would not mean "walking away from our European friends" as she carried out her first overseas visit as Prime Minister.

Mrs May, appearing alongside German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, insisted the UK would remain an "outward-looking country" after the EU referendum result.

"I have been clear that Brexit means Brexit, and the United Kingdom is going to make a success of it," she said. "But I also want to be clear here today, and across Europe in the weeks ahead, that we are not walking away from our European friends.

"Britain will remain an outward-looking country, and Germany will remain a vital partner and a special friend for us."

Mrs May confirmed she would not trigger the two-year Article 50 process of leaving the European Union before the end of the year.

Ms Merkel said the close bond between the UK and Germany would continue "irrespective" of the vote to leave the EU.

She indicated that although there could not be "formal or informal" negotiations on a Brexit deal before Article 50 is triggered, there would be discussions about the situation.

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