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New prime minister Theresa May has confirmed that official negotiations regarding the departure of the UK from the European Union will not begin in 2016.

Mrs May made the announcement during talks with Germany’s Angela Merkel, at which she said that ensuring a “sensible and orderly departure” from the EU would take some time. She told reporters that the decision to hold off on the official negotiations “would not please everyone”, but added that it was “right to hold off” until the country’s “objectives were clear”.

The prime minister also confirmed that the UK planned to retain the “closest economic links” with Europe despite the Brexit vote.

Mrs May’s comments will ensure that more time is allowed to take the right steps as regards planning a suitable exit from the EU. They come despite leaders in both Brussels and France calling upon Britain to begin its exit talks as soon as possible.

German chancellor Angela Merkel agreed with Mrs May’s stance on proceedings, saying: “It is completely understandable that, only a few days after the referendum, the government will have to take a moment first to try to seek to identify its interests and also have to have to talk about the other parts of Great Britain.

“It is to our advantage to have the UK define its negotiating stance in great detail and clarity and to also clearly outline how it sees its future relationship with the EU — these have to be parallel processes.”