Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) could be delayed until at least late 2019 because the government was too “chaotic” to start the two-year process early next year, The Sunday Times reported, citing sources it said were briefed by ministers.
Britain voted to leave the EU on June 23, but views differ over when it should invoke “Article 50”, which sets the clock ticking on a two-year deadline to leave the bloc, with some senior politicians calling for a quick departure.
Triggering Article 50 Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will not trigger Brexit talks this year as Britain needs time to prepare for the exit.
However, British government Ministers have warned senior figures in the City of London, London’s financial district, that Article 50 was unlikely to be triggered early in 2017 because the situation in government was “chaotic”, The Sunday Times reported on Sunday.
“Ministers are now thinking the [Article 50] trigger could be delayed until autumn 2017,” one source, who had spoken to two senior Ministers, told the newspaper.
“They don’t have the infrastructure for the people they need to hire. They say they don’t even know the right questions to ask when they finally begin bargaining with Europe.”
Asked about the reported delay to triggering Article 50, a Number 10 spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister has been clear that a top priority for this government is to deliver the decision of the British people to leave the EU and make a success of Brexit.”
European leaders have taken a firm line on the speed of Britain’s exit, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying that while it was understandable that Britain would need a few months to figure out its strategy, “nobody wants a long period of limbo”.
But behind the scenes, there has been a growing realisation in Europe’s capitals that the two-year window for negotiating Brexit is far too short.