BERLIN, Germany, Jun 25 – EU leaders pressured Britain Saturday to make a quick exit from the union, warning they could not afford to be left in “limbo” and that the divorce would not be “amicable”.
Foreign ministers of the EU’s founding member states, gathering in Berlin for crisis talks after Britain’s shock referendum outcome, said London must begin the process of leaving “as soon as possible”.
France’s Jean-Marc Ayrault went as far as to call for David Cameron, who has said he would resign by October, to make way more quickly for a new British prime minister to manage the transition out of the union.
As the EU grappled with the first defection in its six-decade history, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker warned London against foot-dragging now that it had made its choice.
He admitted that the EU had hoped Britain would stay but that now it was key to make the separation process as quick and painless as possible.
“It is not an amicable divorce but it was also not an intimate love affair,” he said.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz called Cameron’s decision to possibly wait until October to leave “scandalous”, saying that he was “taking the whole (European) continent hostage”.
It will fall to Cameron’s successor to lead the complex negotiations under Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty which sets out a two-year timeframe to leave.