What Brexit? If Britain treats the referendum as a non-event, the EU will do likewise

The Guardian reports: Germany has ruled out any possibility of informal talks on Britain leaving the EU before it files formal notice of its intention to go, dealing a major blow to the Brexit campaign’s leaders.

As the US secretary of state, John Kerry, flew into Brussels for urgent talks at the start of a crunch week for Europe, chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman said only Britain could start the exit process and “if the government needs a reasonable amount of time to do that, we respect that”.

But Steffen Seibert added: “One thing is clear – before Great Britain has sent this notification, there will be no informal preliminary talks about the exit modalities.”

Eager to avoid a domino effect in other Eurosceptic member states, European leaders have said they want the UK to make a swift start on the marathon task of extricating itself from the bloc by triggering article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, the untested procedure governing how a member state leaves, as soon as possible.

But London has so far shown no sign of wanting to launch formal exit proceedings, with the prime minister, David Cameron, who resigned on Friday, leaving the task to his successor, and leading Brexit campaigners including Boris Johnson demanding informal withdrawal talks before locking Britain into the strict two-year timeframe laid down in the article 50 process.

Brussels has also emphatically ruled out informal talks on a possible trade deal before the UK triggers article 50. “No notification, no negotiation,” one official said on Sunday. A diplomat added: “If they treat their referendum as a non-event, we will also treat their referendum as a non-event.” [Continue reading…]

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