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UK to Trigger Brexit Process in Early 2017

UK to Trigger Brexit Process in Early 2017UK to Trigger Brexit Process in Early 2017

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Thursday Britain plans to trigger Article 50, the formal process for leaving the European Union, early next year.

“We are talking to our European friends and partners in the expectation that by the early part of next year you will see an Article 50 letter. We will invoke that,” he told Britain’s Sky News television in New York.

Prime Minister Theresa May has previously said Britain would not trigger Article 50 before the end of this year, AFP reported. Doing so would mark the formal start of a two-year negotiation period for Britain to leave the EU following its referendum vote in June to pull out of the 28-nation bloc. However, May’s Downing Street office distanced the government from Johnson’s comments.

“The government’s position has not changed: we will not trigger Article 50 before the end of 2016 and we are using this time to prepare for the negotiations,” a spokesman said. And Johnson, who spearheaded the Leave campaign for Brexit, was dogged by claims from one of his own Foreign Office junior ministers that he only did so to position himself to take over as prime minister.

Europe minister Alan Duncan said he did not believe Johnson really wanted Britain to leave the EU at all.

“I’ve always thought that Boris’s wish was to lose by one (vote) so that he could be the heir apparent”, without having to deal with “clearing up all the mess”, Duncan told the BBC. May succeeded fellow Remain-backer David Cameron as leader of the governing center-right Conservatives, and therefore prime minister, in July. In New York, Johnson indicated he did not think the Brexit negotiations would need the full two years to be completed.

“I don’t think we will actually necessarily need to spend a full two years but let’s see how we go,” he said.

Johnson also hit out at suggestions that Britain would have to continue to allow free movement of people with the EU if it wanted to maintain access to the European single market.

“They would have us believe that there is some automatic tradeoff between what they call access to the single market and free movement. Complete baloney. Absolute baloney,” he said.

“The two things have nothing to do with each other. We should go for a jumbo free-trade deal and take back control of our immigration policy.”

Financialtribune.com