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Britain left out in the cold

By Agencies in Brussels ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-06-30 08:12:06

European leader warns Britain does not have 'months to meditate' before withdrawal process

European leaders met on Wednesday without Britain for the first time in 40 years to prepare for life after the Brexit bombshell.

Highlighting the seismic shock from last week's referendum, one person who was in Brussels however was Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, "utterly determined" to see Scotland remain in the EU.

Britain "made the decision that it did. And this morning it looks like they aren't sitting at the table any more", European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said as he arrived on Wednesday.

At a summit described as "sad" on Tuesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron won some breathing space from the remaining 27 leaders of the bloc five days after Britain rocked financial markets by voting 52 to 48 percent to leave the bloc.

Juncker warned Britain did not have "months to meditate" before triggering Article 50 - the EU treaty clause that begins the two-year withdrawal process - after Cameron's successor takes office in early September.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier warned that London could not "cherry-pick" the terms of the exit negotiations.

Cameron flew back to London after Tuesday's summit, as Sturgeon headed in the opposite direction to test the waters in Brussels for her country joining the bloc as a separate entity.

Scotland overwhelmingly backed "Remain" in last Thursday's vote, and the combative Sturgeon has said she was "utterly determined to preserve Scotland's relationship and place within the EU".

New referendum

That may require a new referendum on Scottish independence, with Sturgeon saying that the Britain from the last vote in 2014 "does not exist any more" following the Brexit vote.

Top of the agenda at Wednesday's EU meeting was how the remaining 27 members can bolster unity after the shock of the British vote.

Meanwhile, thousands protested in London on Tuesday, waving EU flags and placards saying: "Stop Brexit" and chanting "Fromage (cheese), not Farage!", a reference to Nigel Farage, a key figure in the "Leave" camp.

Race opens to succeed Cameron

Britain's Conservative party launched the race on Wednesday to succeed Prime Minister David Cameron after last week's stunning Brexit vote, with former London mayor and top "Leave" campaigner Boris Johnson tipped as the front-runner.

With turmoil surging through both of Britain's main parties, defiant opposition Labour chief Jeremy Corbyn faced a looming leadership challenge after Thursday's referendum.

Johnson, who led the "Leave" campaign, tops the opinion polls along with interior minister Theresa May for the Conservative leadership, and therefore the keys to 10 Downing Street.

 Britain left out in the cold

Demonstrators show London's solidarity with the European Union following the recent EU referendum, in Trafalgar Square, central London, on Tuesday. Dylan Martinez / Reuters

(China Daily 06/30/2016 page12)

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