British Prime Minister Theresa May says her government will not begin negotiations on leaving the European Union (EU) this year.
During her first foreign trip since taking office, May told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that she needed time to prepare for a “sensible and orderly departure.”
“We will not invoke Article 50 until our objectives are clear, which is why I’ve said already this will not happen before the end of this year,” May said on Wednesday, referring to the formal process for leaving the EU.
May also noted that Britain would not “walk away” from Europe and would retain the “closest economic links.”
Merkel agreed that the UK needed time to plan the negotiations, saying it was in the interests of both sides that London had a “well-defined position” before the talks.
“No one wants things to be up in the air — neither Britain nor the member states of the EU,” the German chancellor said.
“If we look at all matters and challenges facing us, it’s most important to have Britain as a partner and we will do so and then negotiate on Britain leaving,” she added.
Merkel, however, stressed that there was a need for a “certain timeline” for the UK’s departure.
On June 23, some 52 percent (17.4 million) of British people voted in a referendum to leave the EU after 43 years of membership, while roughly 48 percent (16.14 million) of people voted to stay in the union.
The vote result has caused political turmoil in the country, where David Cameron announced his resignation and Theresa May was named as the new premier within a few weeks.
The vote has also sent economic shockwaves through Britain as well as global financial markets. The pound has slumped to a record low against the dollar.