No Brexit talks for months, EU’s Juncker concedes

EU Commission President Juncker says Britain should have been better prepared for possibility of a ‘Leave’ vote

Theresa May
British PM has said the UK needs time to prepare before talks can start [File photo: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters]

European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said that Britain will need months of preparation before Brexit talks can start. 

There was no deadline set for Britain to begin the talks, Juncker told France 2 television, since article 50 of the European Union (EU) treaty, which outlines the procedure for an exit, could only be activated by Britain.

Juncker chided Britain for not preparing better for the possibility of a “Leave” vote, adding that his preference would have been for Brexit talks to start as soon as possible.

“I would have preferred the UK presents us its letter of resignation, so to speak, as soon as possible, as I had thought that the British, especially those who wanted to leave the EU, would have prepared for this possibility,” Juncker said. 

READ MORE: Brexit: EU push for UK to leave ‘as soon as possible’

Juncker had previously urged Britain to activate article 50 so that the two-year process to exit the union could start.

In an emergency session called a week after Britain voted to leave the union, Juncker had demanded that Britain clarify its future.

“I want the UK to clarify its position. Not today, not tomorrow at 9am, but soon,” he told members of the European Parliament in the Brussels emergency session, adding that the EU could not remain in a “prolonged period of uncertainty”.

In mid-July, new British Prime Minister Theresa May told Juncker that Britain needed time to prepare for negotiations following the result of the referendum.

READ MORE: UK PM Theresa May affirms Brexit, but ‘needs time’ 

Juncker confirmed that, if Britain did not accept free movement of workers, it would lose unrestricted access to the Internal European Union market.

“There will be no access to the internal market for those who do not accept the rules – without exception or nuance – that make up the very nature of the internal market system,” Juncker said.

French President Francois Hollande has warned that, If the UK stopped free movement of workers from Europe, it would lose free EU market access, adding that London would no longer be able to act as a clearing house in euros. 

Juncker and Farage spar in heated Brexit debate
Source: News Agencies