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May 'not under pressure' over timing of Brexit process

Theresa May and Donald Tusk met at Downing Street. Credit: PA

There is no sense Britain is under pressure to leave the EU quickly, Theresa May's spokeswoman said after the prime minister met with Donald Tusk.

The first meeting between Mrs May and the European Council president since she became prime minister was described as "friendly", with both agreeing they should work together to ensure a "smooth" Brexit process.

Mrs May felt the EU understood her need to take time to form a negotiating stance before triggering Article 50, the formal divorce procedure, her spokeswoman said.

"The main points that the prime minister made were about working together so that there was a smooth process for the UK leaving the European Union, that is why we are taking time to prepare for the negotiations," the spokeswoman told reporters.

Mrs May also told Mr Tusk Britain would be a "strong player" while it remained in the EU and would continue to stand firm on sanctions against Russia over its action in neighbouring Ukraine.

Tusk tells May to start Brexit process 'as soon as possible'

European Council president Donald Tusk has urged Theresa May to start the Brexit process "as soon as possible", saying: "the ball is now in your court".

The leaders of the other 27 EU nations will hold talks in Bratislava next week and Mr Tusk said they would "discuss the political consequences of Brexit" for Europe.

But as they met in Downing Street, he told Mrs May: "It doesn't mean that we are going to discuss our future relations with the UK in Bratislava, because for this - and especially for the start of the negotiations - we need the formal notification, I mean triggering Article 50.

"I'm aware that it is not easy but I still hope you will be ready to start the process as soon as possible."

The prime minister said she wanted a "smooth" Brexit process and told Mr Tusk they had "serious issues" to discuss.

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