Saturday

17th Nov 2018

UK to start Brexit talks early 2017, Johnson says

  • Johnson said the UK would set out its main positions in the article 50 notification letter (Photo: Parsons_Boris_whitehall-1069)

UK foreign minister Boris Johnson hinted Thursday (22 September) that his government is likely to launch EU exit talks early next year, only to be rebuked by his prime minister, Theresa May later on.

Johnson told Sky News in an interview that the UK would set out the principles for departure in a notification letter to the EU, which would trigger article 50 of the EU treaty, the clause for the exit process.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"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 said in New York on the sidelines of the UN general assembly.

“We will invoke that, and in that letter I’m sure we will be setting out some parameters for how we propose to take this forward - principles," Johnson said.

He also suggested the exit process could take less than the scheduled two years.

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

Downing Street declined to back up Johnson’s statements.

"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.

Prime minister Theresa May previously only said that Britain would not trigger article 50 before the end of this year.

When meeting Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, on Thursday, she said: "This period of preparation is valuable for all concerned and while we are going to leave the European Union, we are not leaving Europe".

'Complete baloney'

Johnson also slammed the notion that Britain would have to allow some level of freedom of movement to retain access to the EU's single market.

"They would have us believe that there is some automatic trade-off 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," Johnson added.

He said it was in the “overwhelming interest” of the EU to do a deal with the UK.

“We are going to benefit from the fantastic opportunities for greater free trade with our friends in the EU. It’s overwhelmingly in their interest to do that," he said.

“Not only do we buy more German cars than anybody else, we drink more Italian wine than any other country in Europe, 300 million litres of Prosecco every year. They’re not going to put that at risk," Johnson argued.

He said however that Britain would still play a role in European defence after it has left the bloc.

"We will continue to be a participant in common European defence discussions, security, foreign policy, counter-terrorism, intelligence sharing and all that kind of thing," he added.

Who wanted Brexit?

In the meantime, Johnson was accused by his own junior minister of never really wanting to quit the EU.

Europe minister Alan Duncan told the BBC he believed Johnson only positioned himself with the Leave camp, so that he could have a shot at the prime minister's office.

"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", he said.

While Johnson was regarded as a frontrunner for the PM's office after Brexit, he did not run. In the end Theresa May succeeded David Cameron as leader of the Conservatives, and prime minister, in July.

UK to veto EU 'defence union'

Reacting to Bratislava talks, Britain has said it would veto the creation of EU military capabilities so long as it remained a member of Europe.

Agenda

Climate change and EU cheerleading, This WEEK

The European Parliament will try this week to give the EU a good name, with votes and debates on issues where conventional wisdom says that citizens expect results.

No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt

British PM Theresa May battles for survival as she faces calls for her resignation and the rebellion of several ministers who resigned over the draft Brexit deal - which the EU is preparing to sign later this month.

Analysis

Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)

The main points of the Brexit withdrawal deal between London and Brussels dissected. Although the EU is preparing to sign the agreement, the UK government has been rocked by resignations since its publication less than 24 hours ago.

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us