Trump wants Britain to remain engaged with Europe

Former British prime minister David Cameron today defended his decision to call the referendum on whether the United Kingdom should stay or leave the European Union, as London formally launched the process to quit the bloc.

Britain sought to downplay a row over future security ties with the EU Thursday, as London and Brussels drew up the first battle lines at the start of their two-year divorce.

"We are going to take control of the things that matter most to us and we are going to take this opportunity to build a stronger, fairer Britain, a country that our children and grandchildren are proud to call home".

The guidelines state that the European Union will "give priority to an orderly withdrawal", and will take a phased approach, with the first phase aiming to settle the terms of the UK's removal from the rights and obligations derived from membership and to provide "as much clarity and legal certainty as possible" to citizens and businesses.

The guidelines say that the European Union called for a "phased approach" that prioritises an orderly withdrawal that reduces the disruption caused by Britain's departure in March 2019.

The EU's approach to the talks which will establish Britain's new relationship with the remaining 27 member states is to be set out by European Council president Donald Tusk. In the future, we hope to have the United Kingdom as a close partner. This is what Prime Minister May told parliament after the letter was handed over.

Draft guidelines obtained by the Associated Press say that the European Union and Britain must first "settle the disentanglement" of Britain from the bloc.

"I thought it right to hold the referendum because this issue had been poisoning British politics for years".

The draft document will be sent to European Union capitals ahead of debate and a vote at a special European Union leaders' summit on April 29th.

Tusk also ruled out the suggestion that there was an inherent threat in May's departure letter Wednesday, which some felt hinted that Britain would end its security cooperation with continental Europe unless it gets a good Brexit deal.

That puts them directly at odds with Mrs May who said in her formal Article 50 letter to Mr Tusk that she wanted the two negotiations to proceed in parallel. "It doesn't work like that - you can not use, or abuse, I should say, the security of citizens to have a good deal on something else", he said.

Another priority is to settle questions about British and other European citizens living in each other's countries, and find "flexible and imaginative solutions" for the UK's land border with Ireland.

Mr Tusk's negotiation guidelines are also expected to endorse the leaders' insistence that Brexit terms - including the so-called "divorce bill" - must be settled before a new trade relationship can be discussed.

  • Joanne Flowers