The Slatest

EU Tells UK to Get on With Brexit Already as London Warns of Long Process

From left to right, Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, Italy’s Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Belgium’s Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, and Netherlands’ Foreign Minister Bert Koenders address a press conference after post-Brexit talks at the Villa Borsig in Berlin on June 25, 2016.

JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images

European Union governments had a clear message for Britain as everyone woke up with Brexit hangover: Just leave already. European leaders tried to move quickly on Saturday to stop the bleeding and try to contain the pain of the cataclysmic UK vote to leave the EU. In London, however, leaders made it clear the formal exit process won’t begin for several months, suggesting a long period of uncertainty about what will actually happen and how this divorce will come to pass.

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“There is a certain urgency … so that we don’t have a period of uncertainty, with financial consequences, political consequences,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said at a meeting of the six founding nations of the European Union. German Chancellor Angela Merkel tried to strike a more diplomatic tone, making clear she wasn’t particularly fond of the idea of pushing for a quick exit. “It shouldn’t take forever, that’s right, but I would not fight for a short timeframe,” she said.

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Seems Merkel may just be accepting reality. As the Guardian points out, there seems to be little the European Union can do to push Britain to leave the bloc. “There is no mechanism to compel a state to withdraw from the European Union,” said Kenneth Armstrong, a European law professor.

Scotland, in contrast, is in no mood to wait and is seeking immediate talks with the European Union to make sure it can remain in the bloc. The Scottish government will “explore possible options to protect Scotland’s place in the EU,” Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon said. A new referendum on independence is “very much on the table,” she added.

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