Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday urged whoever succeeds her to get Britain out of the EU quickly but with a deal, as she met the bloc’s leaders just days after announcing her resignation.
May looked relaxed and smiled for the cameras as she arrived at a Brussels summit, the first one in many months that did not require her to wrangle with European colleagues over Brexit.
They met to begin discussing filling the bloc’s top job, a task complicated by European Parliament elections that shook up traditional alliances.
May said that despite her announcement last Friday that she will quit, and Britain’s impending exit from the bloc, she will play a “constructive role”.
And she had a message for her Conservative party colleagues vying to replace her back home, many of whom have raised the prospect of a potentially damaging “no deal” Brexit.
“They will have to find a way of addressing very strongly held views on both sides of this issue and to do that and to get a majority in parliament will require compromise,” she said.
May resigned after failing repeatedly to get her EU withdrawal deal through parliament, forcing her to delay Brexit twice, most recently to October 31.
Frontrunners for her job, notably Boris Johnson, have said Britain should not be scared to leave with no deal — a message also delivered by Nigel Farage, whose populist Brexit party topped European Parliament elections.
May admitted the elections, in which her Conservative party came fifth, were “deeply disappointing”.
“What it shows is the importance of actually delivering on Brexit,” she told reporters
“I think the best way to do that is with a deal but it will be for my successor and for parliament to find a way forward to get a consensus.”
Several of the contenders to replace May have called for her EU withdrawal deal to be renegotiated, but the bloc’s leaders said this would not happen.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters in Brussels: “I was crystal clear that there will be no renegotiation.”