More clarity, ambitious: European countries' mixed reactions to Theresa May's Brexit plans

BERLIN - British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit speech on Tuesday (Jan 17) that pledges to quit the European Union's single market has drawn mixed reactions from Europe, with the Czech Republic calling her Brexit plan a "bit ambitious".

Britain will leave the EU's single market when it exits the bloc, Prime Minister Theresa May said in the speech, putting an end to speculation that London might try to seek a "soft Brexit".

Germany's foreign minister welcomed the "little bit more clarity" Mrs May provided on what kind of Brexit Britain wants and said it was good she made clear she wanted to work constructively with the EU, Reuters reported.

"She emphasised that Great Britain is seeking a positive and constructive partnership, friendship with a strong European Union. That's good," Mr Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a statement after a speech in which Mrs May laid out her Brexit priorities.

Mr Steinmeier said Germany also wanted the closest and most trusting relations possible with Britain but reiterated that negotiations could only begin once the British government has invoked Article 50 to start to divorce talks.

"It's in the interests of Germany and Europe to strengthen the cohesion of the European Union of 27 members and to protect the unity of the European Single Market," Mr Steinmeier said.

The Czech Republic, however, is sceptical.

Britain's plan for leaving the European Union is "a bit ambitious", the Czech Republic's secretary of state for EU affairs said after Mrs May's speech, according to Reuters.

"Thorough speech by @theresa-may. At least now we know what UK wants #HardBrexit," the Czech official, Mr Tomas Prouza, said on Twitter.

"UK's plan seems a bit ambitious - trade as free as possible, full control on immigration...where is the give for all the take?"

Mrs May said on Tuesday (Jan 17) Britain could not remain a member of the EU single market after leaving the bloc, but would seek an agreement to allow for the freest possible trade in goods and services.

Finnish finance minister Petteri Orpo wrote on Twitter: "Britain has laid out its plan for #brexit. Next, it is the job of #EU27 to find a common position. United we stand, divided we fall."