Boris Johnson, the potential next leader of the Conservative Party and future Prime Minister of Britain, has said that Britain will continue to have access to the European Union's single market, despite the Brexit vote last Thursday.
He also claimed that the Remain camp, who voted to stay within the EU during last week's referendum, were wildly overstating the economic consequences of leaving the European Union.
In his regular column in The Daily Telegraph, Johnson stated that "Britain is part of Europe, and always will be." He noted that Britain will continue to cooperate with Europe and remain a leader in a number of fields including the arts, sciences, and foreign policy.
Elsewhere in the article, Johnson also said that Britain was "in no great rush" to leave the EU, although as part of the Leave campaign, the former mayor of London had argued that Britain would benefit economically from leaving the union which he characterized as an undemocratic system.
Slowing down Brexit?
Johnson's announcement that Britain was in no hurry to actually leave the EU is in stark contrast to messages from Brussels, where European leaders are urging a swift break.
While around 70 percent of the British populace turned up to vote for the EU referendum last Thursday, the referendum itself is not legally binding. In theory, Parliament could ignore the referendum and do absolutely nothing to leave the EU.
However, doing so could be politically catastrophic as Leave supporters may feel that Parliament is ignoring the will of the people. And Prime Minister David Cameron stated in his speech right after the referendum that the will of the British people who voted to leave "must be respected."
In order to leave, Britain will have to invoke Article 50 of the EU rulebook which handles departure from the EU. After invoking Article 50, the UK and the EU will discuss the terms of the departure which could take up to two years to finalize.
Cameron has stated that he intends to leave the job of exiting from the EU to his successor. The incumbent Prime Minister has said he intends to resign from office in October and his Conservative Party will then hold a leadership contest deciding the next Prime Minister. Johnson is currently the heavy favorite.
But while Cameron is dragging his feet on invoking Article 50 and Johnson is stating that there is no great rush to leave, officials from other EU nations are insisting that Britain should leave quickly and not delay until the Conservative Party elections are concluded.
Picking up the pieces
The referendum will have massive consequences for Europe as a whole and has badly divided Britain. Scotland and Northern Ireland, who voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, could break from the UK if the country does leave the EU. And a petition is already circulating online calling for a second Brexit referendum.
Johnson believes now is the time for unity, not discussing breaking up of the UK. He added that Cameron has a "fine legacy" and also praised Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, and Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, for their management and reforms. At the same time, he also said that he did not detect any appetite for a referendum on Scotland's future.
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