JUST one day into Britain’s uncertain path towards a full break from the EU, with $2 trillion wiped off global markets, the pound crashing, and Scotland preparing legislation for a second independence referendum, the leaders of the Brexit movement have come under fire after appearing to renege on key campaign promises.
Within hours of the result Nigel Farage distanced himself from the controversial claim that Britain would save £350 million pounds per week by leaving the EU, while eurosceptic MEP Daniel Hannan suggested that immigration levels, the crux of the Brexit campaign, could remain essentially unchanged.
“Frankly, if people watching think that they have voted and there is now going to be zero immigration from the EU, they are going to be disappointed,” the Tory commented on June 25, adding that he had never personally suggested that EU nationals in the UK would see a change in their status.
Meanwhile, as Moody’s lowered the outlook for the UK’s credit rating from stable to negative, leading leaver Liam Fox suggested that there was no rush to activate article 50 to initiate the divorce negotiations.
“I think that it doesn’t make any sense to trigger article 50 without having a period of reflection first, for the cabinet to determine exactly what it is that we’re going to be seeking and in what timescale.”
The Conservative MP’s remarks echo those of potential future prime minister Boris Johnson who said there was “no haste” to begin negotiations, a claim that provoked the ire of senior EU officials eager to see Brexit quickly done and dusted.
EU Parliament president Martin Schulz has come out in favour of a fast negotiation process, lamenting that if Article 50 is not triggered until October then “a whole continent is taken hostage because of an internal fight in the Tory party.”
“Britons decided yesterday that they want to leave the European Union, so it doesn’t make any sense to wait until October to try to negotiate the terms of their departure,” said European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.
EU leaders are keen to act before growing anti-EU sentiment across the continent sees calls for further referendums, likely weakening their hand any future Brexit deal.