Will continue to play a full role in EU till we leave, says May

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May in Brussels.  

Theresa May, Prime Minister of United Kingdom (U.K.) vowed on Thursday that Britain will play a full part in the European Union (EU) until it leaves.

Ms. May was to use the meeting in Brussels on Thursday to update EU counterparts on her plan to start formal exit talks by the end of March, paving the way for Britain to leave the bloc by early 2019. But as she arrived to take the seat, she made clear Brexit was not the only issue on the table, calling for a “robust and united” EU response to Russia’s “atrocities” in Syria.

“The UK is leaving the EU but we will continue to play a full role until we leave and we’ll be a strong and dependable partner after we’ve left,” she told reporters.

EU president Donald Tusk repeated that there would be no negotiations before Britain triggers Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon treaty, which begins a two-year countdown to leaving.

Ms. May’s plan to trigger Article 50 by March, unveiled at her party conference earlier this month, has been welcomed by European leaders. But she angered many member states by stating her intention to limit EU migration into Britain, while also seeking “maximum freedom” to operate in the EU’s single market.

European leaders have repeatedly said the two demands are incompatible, and warned London should expect to pay a heavy price for its decision to leave.

In a sign of the complexity of the discussions ahead, Ms. May had indicated on Wednesday that she could seek to extend the negotiation process, telling lawmakers it might take “two years or more”. — AFP