U.K.’s May Urges a National ‘Coming Together’ After Brexit Vote

  • Christmas message comes six months after EU referendum
  • May is preparing to trigger Brexit talks by end of March

Prime Minister Theresa May called on a divided U.K. to unite as the country prepares to leave the European Union in a Christmas message that avoided mentioning the word “Brexit” and focused on reasons to celebrate.

May picked out Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday and Britain’s success at the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, where the country placed second in the medal table. She said these were “precious moments” for people with different beliefs and backgrounds to cheer about 2016 and “come together to celebrate with families and communities.”

“Coming together is also important for us as a country. As we leave the European Union we must seize an historic opportunity to forge a bold new role for ourselves in the world and to unite our country,” May said in a statement e-mailed by her office on Saturday. “With our international partners, we must work together to promote trade, increase prosperity and face the challenges to peace and security around the world.”

May’s comments come six months after Britons voted by 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the EU. Polling since then shows that few have changed their mind, leaving the country as polarized as it was in June.

The prime minister is preparing to officially trigger two years of divorce negotiations with the EU by the end of March, with ‘Remain’ supporters urging her to preserve membership of the bloc’s single market, and Brexit voters demanding a clean and quick break.

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