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23rd Sep 2023

British MEPs back Cameron, exit talks likely in autumn

  • Syed Kamall (l) with EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker (Photo: European Parliament)

Formal negotiations between the UK and the EU about an exit from the bloc could start in the autumn, the leader of the British Conservatives in the European Parliament has said.

"I would expect there to be a short period of informal talks beforehand," MEP Ashley Fox told EUobserver on Friday, in the wake of Thursday's (23 June) EU referendum where voters chose to leave the EU.

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  • Fox: 'I am naturally disappointed by the decision, but as a British politician my job is to implement that decision' (Photo: European Parliament)

"I expect Article 50 to be triggered at some point during the autumn, we'll be leaving in 2 years’ time," he said, referring to the EU treaty procedure for exiting.

Fox said Tory MEPs stand behind PM David Cameron. He himself campaigned for Remain.

"I am naturally disappointed by the decision, but as a British politician my job is to implement that decision," he said. "I am a little bit surprised, yes," he added.

Fox argued that immigration and freedom of movement was the overwhelming issue that weighed on voters' minds for leaving, and said it is noticeable that PM David Cameron did not try to address that issue.

He added he thinks the Conservative Party is united in respecting the decision of the British people, and that he did not expect there to be a second referendum on the independence of Scotland, who voted overwhelmingly for Remain.

Another Tory MEP, Syed Kamall, who supported the Leave camp, told journalists he does not think David Cameron should resign.

"David Cameron should be given credit that he promised a referendum to the British people. He delivered the referendum," said Kamall, who is the leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group in the EU.

He said that what is important now is to have a "mutually beneficial" deal between the EU and the UK.

"This [vote] sends a strong signal to the rest of the EU that you cannot go on as you are ... Many people in the EU wanted to bury their head in the sand and say this is populism, and we should ignore it and we should get on with the European project," he said.

Kamall added that ignoring the French and Dutch referendums on further integration, when people turned down an EU constitution, has led to the result of the UK referendum.

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