LONDON British Brexit minister David Davis heads to Brussels on Monday to open divorce talks with the EU with a message that there should be "no doubt — we are leaving the European Union".
Days after a suggestion from French President Emmanuel Macron that Britain could still choose to remain, Davis said there would be no backtracking from Prime Minister Theresa May's plan to deliver on Brexit, for which Britons voted in a referendum almost a year ago.
"As I head to Brussels to open official talks to leave the EU, there should be no doubt — we are leaving the European Union, and delivering on that historic referendum result," Davis said in a statement.
"Leaving gives us the opportunity to forge a bright new future for the UK — one where we are free to control our borders, pass our own laws and do what independent sovereign countries do."
May, under pressure after losing her ruling Conservatives' majority in a botched snap election and over her response to a devastating fire that killed at least 58 in a London apartment block, says she wants a clean break with the EU - a strategy some in her party have challenged as risking economic growth.
Davis, a prominent 'Leave' campaigner in the referendum, said he was approaching the talks in a "constructive way", knowing they will be "difficult at points".
"We are not turning our backs on Europe," he said in the statement. "It's vital that the deal we strike allows both the UK and the EU to thrive, as part of the new deep and special partnership we want with our closest allies and friends."
(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)