UK: Mixed Emotions As PM Triggers Brexit


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There was what could mildly be described as mixed emotions when the British Prime Minister, Theresa May sent a tweet that triggered Brexit.
“After nine months the UK has delivered,” declared EU Council President Donald Tusk in a portentous tweet on receipt of the letter triggering Brexit from Prime Minister Theresa May.
The tone of his speech in Brussels was full of regret. There was “no reason to pretend that this is a happy day” in Brussels or London, he added. “We already miss you.”
Looking on the bright side, he said there was “also something positive” about Brexit as it had made the 27 states remaining in the EU more determined and united than before.
That mood of regret tinged with defiance was echoed by a tweet from European Parliament President Antonio Tajani: “Today isn’t a good day. #Brexit marks a new chapter in our Union’s history, but we’re ready, we’ll move on, hoping UK remains close partner.”
He later spoke about the possibility of Britain reversing its decision, saying that all member states would have to support it.
Indeed, the tweet generated different reactions from some leaders including European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who while speaking in Malta in apparent response to the tweet, called it a “day of sadness”.
French President Francois Hollande, meanwhile, said that while Brexit was “sentimentally painful” for Europe it would be “economically painful” for Britain.
Mr Hollande also said there was no intention to “punish” Britain “for the principle”.
“It will end with a trade agreement between Great Britain and Europe, we hope that it’s the best trade agreement possible,” he said during a visit to Indonesia.
In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel struck a pragmatic tone. She said Germany and other EU states “certainly didn’t want this day to come, because we’re losing a strong and important member state.
“But naturally we accept the democratic decision of the British voters,” she added.
Mrs Merkel also said Britain’s commitments to the EU had to be dismantled before talks could move on to the future relationship, in an apparent rejection of Mrs May’s call for simultaneous discussions.
She also stressed the need to protect EU citizens living in Britain.
A more bitter response came from another leading German politician, Manfred Weber, chair of the centre-right EPP Group in the European Parliament.
Pointing the finger at British politicians who had campaigned for Brexit, he complained that they had had the chance to grow up in a free Europe but now they were erecting walls.
“EU has done everything to keep the British. From now on, only the interests of the remaining 440 million Europeans count for us,” he tweeted.

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