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Merkel urges EU to stay united on Brexit

Published on 12/01/2017

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday told the European Union it must keep a united front in negotiations with Britain over its exit from the bloc.

“We are absolutely in agreement that we cannot let ourselves be divided,” she told a news conference after talks with Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel.

“The 27 (member states) must act together in the negotiations, but first we await the answer about how Britain wants to design its exit.”

Merkel will visit neighbouring Belgium later Thursday, where she will receive an honorary university doctorate and hold talks with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.

Britons voted to leave the EU in a referendum in June last year, but the rest of the bloc has refused to hold any negotiations on their future relationship until Britain formally triggers its departure.

EU nations have warned Britain cannot expect to keep all the benefits of membership of the single market while being able to limit the bloc’s signature freedom of movement for people.

On Wednesday, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, whose country has just taken over the EU’s rotating six-month presidency, rejected suggestions that Britain may be able to play on divisions to extract concessions.

“I have rarely been at a discussion on any other subject where the 27 member states have basically the same position,” he said.