Brexit: Merkel says negotiations with UK will be difficult

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Angela Merkel on stage at event in Zingst, in north-eastern Germany (11 July 2016)Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Mrs Merkel was speaking at a campaign event in north-eastern Germany

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has said negotiations between the UK and the rest of the EU on leaving the bloc will not be easy.

She said it was important that the 27 other member states asked themselves what kind of EU they wanted.

Mrs Merkel was speaking before it was confirmed that Theresa May is to become the UK's new prime minister.

Meanwhile Austria's finance minister, Hans Schelling, warned that "Great Britain will become Little Britain".

Speaking as he arrived in Brussels for talks, Mr Schelling predicted that Scotland and Northern Ireland would not leave the EU following the referendum. Both voted against so-called Brexit.

Other EU ministers welcomed the news that Theresa May is set to be appointed the UK's new prime minister, and said they were looking forward to negotiations on "Brexit" beginning.

"The sooner we can sort out this - how can I say it diplomatically - problematic situation, the better," said Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who is the Dutch finance minister and head of the Eurozone group.

"We should enter negotiations as quickly as possible because we need to limit uncertainty," said Pierre Moscovici, the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs.

No cherry-picking

Mrs Merkel was addressing supporters in eastern Germany before it emerged that Mrs May's only rival to take over from David Cameron had dropped out of the contest.

The German leader has previously said that negotiations with the UK can only take place once Article 50 has been triggered by the UK government, the formal mechanism by which a country leaves the EU.

Mrs May for her part has made it clear that she would not be in a rush to trigger Article 50 - but that "Brexit means Brexit".

Britain is likely to push for good access to the EU's single market but many British politicians would also like to control immigration from the EU.

In a television interview on Sunday night, the German chancellor said Britain would not be able to "cherry-pick" the bits of the EU it wants, and leave out those it does not.