Britain has been told to stop commenting on European affairs, while also being warned that should stop dreaming of accessing the EU single markets and its other benefits, while it is no longer a member of the EU.
The comments by the EU senior politicians follow comment by Britain’ foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, who this week publicly offered to help Turkey join the EU despite Britain’s looming departure. When he was campaigning for Britain to leave the EU, Johnson made immigration remarks that some find offensive to the Turkish, especially when he suggested Turkish immigrants would flood the UK if Britain was to stay in the EU.
EU’s senior parliamentarian Manfred Weber, a long-standing opponent of Turkey joining the EU, described Johnson’s support for Ankara as “unbelievable” and “a purely arrogant provocation”. Weber is the leader of the largest centre-right group in the European parliament.
Weber urged the UK to refrain from getting involved in decisions about the EU’s long-term future. “I ask the British government not to influence this discussion, which will go on over the next two, two-and-a-half years,” he said. “Please step back; it is a question of fairness and respect. When you want to leave a club, you have no say any more in the long-term future of this club.”
Meanwhile, the European parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, said the UK may have only 14 months of proper negotiations to tie up its EU exit and pressed for talks to be completed by mid-2019.
Verhofstadt said he had also told Brexit minister David Davis that European lawmakers would not accept Britain trying to keep access to the single market while limiting freedom of movement for EU citizens.
European Union leaders have ruled out any formal Brexit negotiations before Britain invokes Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, the official exit procedure, following its June vote to leave the 28-nation bloc.
The EU is refusing substantial talks until the government triggers the Article 50 exit process; some European officials think the British do not have much to say. And Weber said he had not heard anything new from Davis about what Brexit really meant.
Only 60 percent of EU legislation relates to the single market, Weber said, while the rest covers areas such as research, cooperation on crime and migration. “Brexit means leaving: you cannot stay for 90 percent of the legislation and only have a Brexit on migration, that is not possible,” said Weber.
Verhofstadt said if Britain triggers the two-year divorce process in March 2017, as Prime Minister Theresa May has promised following Britain’s June vote to leave, then formal negotiations are unlikely to start until May 2017.
MEPs must then formally give their consent for any deal and that would take several months from late 2018, he said.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May has said she wants to cut EU migrant numbers and retain access for British businesses to Europe’s single market, but EU leaders insist the two are incompatible. UK has insisted that it want “a trading relationship that allows UK companies to trade both with and within the single market and lets European businesses do the same”.