Outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron seeks to reassure UK that it will strive for the "closest possible relationship" with EU post-Brexit

 
Josh Martin
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"You deal with the Brexit fall-out". "No, you deal with the Brexit fall-out". (Source: Getty)

Prime Minister David Cameron has tonight wrapped up what will likely be his final EU leaders meeting with a bid to reassure all parties that the UK will seek "the closest possible deal" with the European Union, post-Brexit.

Cameron said his working dinner with EU leaders was calm and constructive, although the tone was one of "sadness and regret" following the results of last week's referendum.

"We will not be turning our back on Europe," Cameron told reporters after the late night meeting as he set out a vision for his successor to strike the "closest possible deal".

Read more: UK will have to wait until after Brexit to strike new trade deals

However, the Conservative leader made clear that European Union leaders had reiterated that the UK could not expect "a deal with benefits but without any of the costs".

"The European Union sees the Single Market as goods, services, capital and people...and they go together".

The meeting will be of no comfort for Vote Leave campaigner and would-be next Prime Minister Boris Johnson who is now pushing for Single Market access, but with controls on immigration.

Immigration and border control had formed the centrepiece of the debate before the 23 June vote and the Prime Minister told European leaders the Leave campaign won, in part, "because voters felt there was no control".

Read more: London Chamber of Commerce renews calls for London business visa

Cameron also warned European leaders, many of whom face far-right, anti-immigration parties within their own states, that the freedom of movement will remain "a challenge for Europe".

The tension now will be whether negotiations can guarantee UK businesses access to the EU Single Market while also giving the UK more control over immigration policy.

Cameron also confirmed the triggering of Article 50 was "for the next British Cabinet to trigger".

Read more: MEPs vote for UK to trigger Article 50 "as soon as possible"

Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty sets in motion the two-year timeframe of the UK's departure.

Despite earlier pressure from individual EU member state leaders, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, not to delay triggering exit proceedings, Cameron now said the "overwhelming view from Brussels was that we need to get this right but we shouldn't take too much time".