Boris Johnson was already at loggerheads with Brussels within hours of Britain’s historic vote to leave the EU as he claimed there need not be any haste in withdrawing from the bloc, even as European leaders told the UK it must move swiftly to avoid prolonged and damaging uncertainty.
The former Mayor of London, now the favourite to succeed David Cameron as Prime Minister, made the call in a victory speech in central London after Britain voted by 52 per cent to 48 per cent to leave the bloc.
"In voting to leave the EU, it’s vital to stress that there’s no need for haste and, as the Prime Minister has just said, nothing will change in the short term except that work will begin on how to extricate this country from the supranational system. As the Prime Minister has said, there is no need to invoke Article 50," Mr Johnson said.
But following crisis talks, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Parliament President Martin Schulz, European Council President Donald Tusk and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte issued a statement saying they expect the UK to initiate its exit “as soon as possible, however painful that process may be”.
“Any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty,” they said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, meanwhile, expressed “great regret” at Britain’s decision, but insisted the bloc was “strong enough” to find the “right answers” to the challenges it faces.
Speaking in Berlin, she said the EU had contributed to peace on the continent, but that stability could not be taken for granted.
“The idea of European unification was the idea of peace after centuries of horrendous bloodshed,” she said.
6 ways Britain leaving the EU will affect you
6 ways Britain leaving the EU will affect you
1/6 More expensive foreign holidays
The first practical effect of a vote to Leave is that the pound will be worth less abroad, meaning foreign holidays will cost us more
2/6 No immediate change in immigration status
The Prime Minister will have to address other immediate concerns. He is likely to reassure nationals of other EU countries living in the UK that their status is unchanged. That is what the Leave campaign has said, so, even after the Brexit negotiations are complete, those who are already in the UK would be allowed to stay
3/6 Higher inflation
A lower pound means that imports would become more expensive. This is likely to mean the return of inflation – a phenomenon with which many of us are unfamiliar because prices have been stable for so long, rising at no more than about 2 per cent a year. The effect may probably not be particularly noticeable in the first few months. At first price rises would be confined to imported goods – food and clothes being the most obvious – but inflation has a tendency to spread and to gain its own momentum
4/6 Interest rates might rise
The trouble with inflation is that the Bank of England has a legal obligation to keep it as close to 2 per cent a year as possible. If a fall in the pound threatens to push prices up faster than this, the Bank will raise interest rates. This acts against inflation in three ways. First, it makes the pound more attractive, because deposits in pounds will earn higher interest. Second, it reduces demand by putting up the cost of borrowing, and especially by taking larger mortgage payments out of the economy. Third, it makes it more expensive for businesses to borrow to expand output
5/6 Did somebody say recession?
Mr Carney, the Treasury and a range of international economists have warned about this. Many Leave voters appear not to have believed them, or to think that they are exaggerating small, long-term effects. But there is no doubt that the Leave vote is a negative shock to the economy. This is because it changes expectations about the economy’s future performance. Even though Britain is not actually be leaving the EU for at least two years, companies and investors will start to move money out of Britain, or to scale back plans for expansion, because they are less confident about what would happen after 2018
6/6 And we wouldn’t even get our money back
All this will be happening while the Prime Minister, whoever he or she is, is negotiating the terms of our future access to the EU single market. In the meantime, our trade with the EU would be unaffected, except that companies elsewhere in the EU may be less interested in buying from us or selling to us, expecting tariff barriers to go up in two years’ time. Whoever the Chancellor is, he or she may feel the need to bring in a new Budget
“The founding fathers found a way to come together and it was manifested in the Treaty of Rome almost 60 years ago. For the future, we should not take this for granted.
“We can all see that we are living in a world of turmoil.”
David Cameron said this morning that Article 50 – a procedure that governs how countries leave the EU – would not be invoked before his successor was in place. He said a replacement should be chosen by the Conservative party conference in October.
Estimates for the time it will take to leave the European Union range between two years and seven years.
Meanwhile, group leaders in the EU Parliament have demanded that the UK formally announce its departure and invoke Article 50 immediately.
Guy Verhofstadt, who chairs the liberals, said: “The EU cannot be taken hostage by a Tory leadership wrangle. We need an Article 50 notification now.”
Marcus Weber and Joseph Daul, who head up the European People's Party – the parliament's largest group – said: "There cannot be any special treatment for the United Kingdom. The British people have expressed their wish to leave the EU. Leave means leave. The times of cherry-picking are over.”
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