The cardinal said the country had been divided by Brexit but now it was time to 'move on'

The triggering of Article 50 following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union does not mean the country wants to leave Europe, the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has said.

According to Vatican Radio, Cardinal Nichols was speaking at a symposium for young people in Barcelona on Wednesday when he said the country had been divided over Brexit but now it was time to “move on”.

Although Britain was leaving the EU, he said, “it should be pointed out that England does not want to leave Europe,” adding: “The issue at stake is the European Union.”

The cardinal insisted that people in Britain still “intend to be good neighbours for European countries.”

On Wednesday the prime minister Theresa May launched the official process to begin Britain’s divorce from the European Union.

Cardinal Nichols said people in Britain felt both “enthusiasm” and “anxiety”.

He added that the two major issues which the country now faced were “the economic and financial repercussions” and the “delicate issue involving Eire and Northern Ireland”.