EU chiefs call for swift Brexit while Boris Johnson and Michael Gove insist 'no haste needed'
European Union chiefs have called for Britain’s swift exit from the bloc following the referendum result - but Boris Johnson today insisted there was “no need for haste”.
The so-called five presidents - including European Council boss Donald Tusk, European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker, European Parliament president Martin Schulz and current Council of the EU president Mark Rutte - said they “regret this decision but respect it”.
They said they hoped to retain the UK as “a close partner of the European Union” in the future and in a way that reflected the “interests of both sides”.
But they added: “We now expect the United Kingdom government to give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible, however painful that process may be.
“Any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty.”
But in his first statement since Britain voted to quit the EU, Vote Leave figurehead Mr Johnson said there was no need to rush triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, which triggers the exit process.
“In voting to leave the EU it is vital to stress that there is now no need for haste,” the former London mayor told a press conference.
“Indeed as the Prime Minister has just said nothing will change over the short term except work will have to begin on how to give effect to the will of the people and to extricate this people from the supranational system.”
Mr Johnson’s Vote Leave colleague Michael Gove echoed the sentiment, arguing the process would be one of “gradual divergence”.
“The British people’s vote to leave is the start of a process, and while that process is ongoing our existing trading relationships with the European Union and the rest of the world will continue as before,” the Justice Secretary added.
“As we move forward, we should be in no doubt that Britain is embarking on a new chapter, but one that is in line with our best traditions.
“We have always been an open, inclusive, tolerant, creative and generous nation.”
The top Tories also paid tribute to David Cameron, who announced this morning he would step down after voters rejected his call for the UK to stay in the EU by 51.9% to 48.1%.
Mr Johnson, who is expected to bid for the top job, labelled the Prime Minister “a brave and principled man” and “one of the most extraordinary politicians of our age”.
Mr Gove added that his boss had “led this country with courage, dignity and grace”.
“He and the Chancellor rebuilt our economy. He has made opportunity more equal in our society. He has exemplified the very best in public service. He deserves to be remembered as a great Prime Minister.”