European leaders send David Cameron home to discuss Brexit

Jake Cordell
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David Cameron had his say yesterday - then he was kicked out so the other 27 can get on with it
David Cameron had his say yesterday - then he was kicked out so the other 27 can get on with it (Source: Getty)

European leaders are having their first full meeting as a bloc without the United Kingdom today following the EU referendum.

David Cameron addressed the 27 heads of state and top European officials over dinner yesterday evening, expressing his regret at the terms of the vote and - for good measure - delivering another ultimatum over the terms of the UK's exit.

He reiterated that it will be a decision for the next prime minister over the timing of the UK's withdrawal, insisting he will not trigger Article 50 during his final few months at Number 10. He then promptly departed for the UK, allowing the rest of Europe to get on with organising their own response to the vote.

Before the meeting Angela Merkel appeared to offer some kind of concession to the UK, stating it was not necessary to start formal negotiations on exit immediately, but indicating they should begin in due course.

Brexit Britain: What you need to know

Despite the fact that it is up to the UK to invoke Article 50, there is thought to be disagreement about how much pressure the EU should place on the UK over the timing. Foreign ministers from the founding six members suggested over the weekend it should happen as soon as possible while France called on David Cameron to step down in a matter of days so negotiations could begin.

Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told the European Parliament yesterday he had placed a "ban" on officials and civil servants talking to the UK about the terms of its exit until Article 50 has been triggered.

In a move which could flare tensions with Downing Street, Juncker has also agreed to meet Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Brussels today as she vows to find a way to keep Scotland in the single market.

Members from across the 27 countries fear the UK's decision to go it alone presents an existential crisis to the bloc and could use the decision to reform and shore up support. A Reuters report suggested Germany was going to use Brexit to present plans for a slimmed-down executive and tougher financial controls on EU members.