LONDON/TOKYO – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed Britain’s progress toward an agreement to leave the European Union during a phone conversation on Tuesday with British Prime Minister Theresa May.
“Prime Minister Abe welcomed the progress the Prime Minister has made to secure an agreement with the European Union,” a statement from May’s office issued after the talks said.
The statement said the leaders also discussed the importance of free trade and close cooperation between the two countries, adding that May hailed Abe’s commitment to visiting Britain early next year.
On Wednesday in Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that Abe has told May he hopes to visit Britain at an early date next year.
Abe had planned to visit Britain after attending the two-day Group of 20 summit in Argentina from Friday. But he gave up the plan apparently due to a tight Diet schedule, government sources said.
British lawmakers are split over May’s proposed Brexit deal. Failure to endorse it in a parliamentary vote Dec. 11 could potentially lead to a “no-deal” exit. The separation from the European Union is slated to become official on March 29.