Wednesday

17th Jan 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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"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.

Farage claims Barnier 'does not get' Brexit

The first official meeting between EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and leading Brexit campaigner, MEP Nigel Farage has no impact on the talks, but gave a chance for the former UKIP leader to boast.

Magazine

Brexit timeline - 'The clock is ticking'

'The clock is ticking' - a favourite phrase of EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier - has become a stark warning, as the UK government took nine months to initiate the Brexit process and even longer to clarify its positions.

Magazine

Michel Barnier: The UK's best friend in Brussels

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator is an atypical French politician, with a love for mountains and Europe. He has been steering Brexit talks with a steady hand, and a deal could catapult him to the higher echelons of EU politics.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  2. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  3. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  4. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  5. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  6. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted
  7. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  8. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  9. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  10. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  11. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  12. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology

Latest News

  1. Ombudsman asks ECB chief to quit secret bankers group
  2. Polish MEP backed by 'spam' emails in Nazi-jibe row
  3. Macron eyes France-UK border agreement
  4. Catalonia prepares for rule by Skype
  5. Post-Brexit trade roll-over not automatic, EU paper says
  6. Oettinger pushes plastic tax but colleagues express doubts
  7. MEPs target exports of cyber surveillance tech
  8. Kosovo killing halts EU talks in Brussels

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  2. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  4. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  6. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  7. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  8. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties
  9. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  10. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  11. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage
  12. Centre Maurits CoppietersCelebrating Diversity, Citizenship and the European Project With Fundació Josep Irla