Germany has warned Britain against further stalling the process of leaving the European Union, commonly referred to as Brexit. “We need to ensure that the talks begin quickly … Further delay isn’t in anyone’s interests,” Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Friday.
The German minister told British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who is on his first visit to Berlin as Britain’s foreign secretary, that preliminary negotiations were not required for the Brexit talks, reiterating that the “negotiations should start as soon as possible.”
Steinmeier, who is an outspoken critic of euro skeptics, said London would not be allowed to take a selective approach on the matter. “Our view is clear and we’ve said it before. We can’t talk about easing the conditions for access to the single market on the one hand and allow Britain to reject those elements it sees as unattractive on the other,” the German foreign minister stated.
London pursues access to the EU’s tariff-free single market, which benefits British businesses, but it opposes the EU’s core principle of free movement, which it says makes it impossible to control the flow of job-seeking migrants to Britain. EU leaders have said repeatedly that Britain cannot have one without the other.
Steinmeier said he hoped the Thursday ruling of a UK High Court of Justice would not interfere with the proceedings. Meanwhile, Johnson assured Steinmeier that the British government would stick with its plans on leaving the EU and initiate the withdrawal talks by the end of March despite the UK court ruling that demands the government consult the parliament before invoking Article 50 of the EU treaty to serve notice to its 27 partners.
Johnson, a leading euro skeptic advocate of Brexit, said he believed Britain’s exit from the EU could be a “win-win” solution for both parties. “I would really not read too much into the legal decision that you have just seen today … the will of the British people was expressed very clearly and it is the decision of Teresa May and her government to get on and make that process work,” Johnson said. The majority of British voters opted in favor of leaving the European Union in a referendum held in June.