Sunday

24th Jun 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.

... our 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.

High noon for British PM on Brexit

British MPs are voting on a Brexit bill that could keep the UK in the EU and destabilise the government, as the clock ticks to the exit date.

EU tells UK to stop with Brexit 'fantasies'

After the latest round of Brexit talks, a senior EU official sounded the alarm bell: progress on the key Irish border issue remains elusive, while the London government is chasing pipe dreams.

Visual Data

Mediterranean towns ready for EU-sponsored free wifi

The European Union's fund for free wireless internet connection hotspots is most popular in Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Malta, Slovenia and Romania. Check if your municipality pre-registered.

News in Brief

  1. Venice Commission: Hungary should repeal NGO law
  2. Trump threatens to slap 20 percent tariff on EU cars
  3. EU closes deficit procedure against France
  4. Romania's ruling party leader gets jail sentence
  5. EU states defer individual decisions on asylum reforms
  6. Commission opens case on Qatar gas flow
  7. EU adopts posted workers directive
  8. EU leaders to call for 'coordinated plan' on AI

Stakeholders' Highlights

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

Latest News

  1. Migration row at centre of EU summit This Week
  2. Merkel's woes cast shadow on EU's future
  3. Europe's tech race - trying to keep pace with US and China
  4. Merkel and Juncker's mini-summit risks fiasco
  5. Greece and creditors proclaim 'end of crisis'
  6. How a US firm pushed for EU €2.1trn pension fund
  7. Commission defends Africa migrant plan ahead of summit
  8. Bavaria hijacks EU migration talks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  2. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  4. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  7. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  9. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  10. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  12. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us