Press release

PM embarks on first visit overseas: 20 July 2016

Theresa May will visit Berlin and Paris to build relationships with European partners as the UK prepares to negotiate its exit from the EU.

The Prime Minister will embark on her first visit overseas today, building relationships with partners across Europe as the UK prepares to negotiate its successful exit from the European Union.

Theresa May will travel to Berlin today for a working dinner with Chancellor Merkel followed by bilateral talks in Paris on Thursday evening with President Hollande.

During both visits, the Prime Minister is expected to hold one-to-one talks with her fellow leaders, starting to establish the personal relations that will pave the way for open and frank discussions in the months ahead as the UK negotiates to leave the European Union.

She is expected to repeat a point she made in early phone calls with these leaders – that it will take some time to prepare for those negotiations as the UK government consults with the devolved administrations and different industry sectors to determine what our objectives should be for that negotiation.

The Prime Minister will underline to both leaders the importance that the United Kingdom attaches to these relationships and make clear that we will want to sustain, and indeed strengthen, these partnerships once we have left the European Union. In that context, the bilateral discussions are expected to focus on the economic and trading relationship between our countries and the close-co-operation on global challenges such as the migration crisis and the threat from Islamist terrorism.

Speaking ahead of travelling to Berlin, the Prime Minister said:

I am determined that Britain will make a success of leaving the European Union and that’s why I have decided to visit Berlin and Paris so soon after taking office. These visits will be an opportunity to forge a strong working relationship that we can build upon and which I hope to develop with more leaders across the European Union in the weeks and months ahead.

I do not underestimate the challenge of negotiating our exit from the European Union and I firmly believe that being able to talk frankly and openly about the issues we face will be an important part of a successful negotiation.

I also want to deliver a very clear message about the importance we attach to our bilateral relationship with our European partners, not just now but also when we have left the European Union. These relationships have been vital in the past and they will be vital in the future as we continue to work together to keep our people safe and to support economic growth that benefits people across our countries.