As pressure from European leaders mounts on incoming British Prime Minister Theresa May to accelerate the country's timetable for Brexit, the president of the European Parliament struck a more conciliatory note, calling for talks to begin after the summer and “without rancor.”
Writing for The Guardian newspaper Tuesday, Martin Schulz of Germany said Britain “should not be treated as a deserter, but as a family member who is still loved but has decided to go in another direction.”
In the latest moves to put pressure on Britain, European Commission economy chief Pierre Moscovici said May should trigger her country's divorce from the European Union as soon as possible after she takes office Wednesday. He spoke as he entered talks Tuesday with EU finance ministers in Brussels.
Meanwhile, European Union President Jean-Claude Juncker's spokesman said the European Commission chief "can cope" with negotiations with May, who has warned he was about to find out how "difficult" she can be.
May, who will take office on Wednesday, has said she will not initiate the exit negotiations before the end of the year.
Although May supported Britain staying in the bloc, she said Monday that "Brexit means Brexit," but stressed the need "to negotiate the best deal for Britain in leaving the EU."
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Tuesday it could take as long as six years for the country to extricate itself from the European Union.
The British vote on June 23, to leave the European Union has sparked a political crisis in Britain.
Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron resigned and is leaving office two months earlier than expected, chairing his last Cabinet meeting Tuesday.
The 116-year-old Labor Party, which governed Britain for 13 years until 2010 under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, has been in turmoil and its leader Jeremy Corbyn is under pressure to also resign.
In the wake of the Brexit vote, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is pushing for an independence referendum for Scotland.