There's no way back for Britain, says 'sad' Merkel

DPA/The Local
DPA/The Local - [email protected] • 29 Jun, 2016 Updated Wed 29 Jun 2016 08:46 CEST
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Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the EU summit in Brussels late on Tuesday that she didn't see any way that the British decision to leave the EU could be reversed.

“I don’t see a way to turn it round. This isn’t the time for wishful thinking,” said Merkel.

The possibility of avoiding a Brexit was not even raised at the summit, the Chancellor claimed.

“The referendum is a clear reality.”

All the heads of state of the 28 EU member states were present including outgoing British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was humiliated by British voters on Thursday when they chose to leave the economic and political union.

At the talks with Cameron “the atmosphere was serious, companionable and affected by the knowledge that the reason for us being there was a rather sad one, but that it was also the reality,” the Chancellor said.

She denied though that her European colleagues had expressed anger towards the defeated British leader.

“Grudges and anger have no place in political negotiations. We all know these feelings, but they don’t have anything to do with professional political negotiation.

“We have interests to represent, we have to consider historical consequences and we have to deal with reality - that is what politics is about.”

After the British electorate voted in favour of leaving the EU last week by 52 percent to 48 percent, the UK is set to become the first country ever to leave the European Union.

Cameron also said that “our partners in the European Union are sad that we intend to leave the organization”, adding that he was also sad, as he had fought for Britain to remain part of a reformed EU.

European leaders are calling for Britain to activate Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty - the clause which sets out the process for a state to leave the union - as quickly as possible.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Tuesday “we don’t have months to mull over this.”

When EU leaders next meet in September, only 27 will be there, with Britain already shut out.

“That is a good next step,” said Merkel.

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