Boris Johnson says the UK could complete Brexit talks inside of two years

Mark Sands
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The British Prime Minister Attends The 71st Regular Session Of The UN General Assembly
Foreign secretary Boris Johnson was in the US this week visiting the United Nations (Source: Getty)

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson has suggested the UK could leave the European Union faster than anticipated.

Speaking to Sky News, Johnson said Theresa May would be ready to trigger formal mechanisms to leave the EU early next year.

But Johnson also said the UK would not necessarily use the entirety of the two-year window to negotiate Brexit provided to it by Article 50.

"By the early part of next year, you will see an Article 50 letter which we will invoke and in that letter I am sure we will be setting out some parameters for how we propose to take this forward," Johnson said.

"You invoke Article 50 in the early part of next year [and] you have two years to pull it off. I don't actually think you need to spend the full two years but let's see how we go."

The next general election is currently set for May 2020, meaning that if May and her government are able to complete the separation from the EU earlier, it will free up more of the remaining time in this parliament for domestic issues.

However, Tory backbencher and former attorney general Dominic Grieve has cautioned that the government should not rush the process.

Responding to Johnson's comments on behalf of Open Britain, a campaign group formed from the remnants of the official Remain campaign, Grieve said: "The Government needs to have a much clearer position by the time they trigger Article 50, including whether they want Britain to keep the Single Market membership, which is so crucial to our economy.

"The process must not be unnecessarily rushed. It's the quality of the agreement we get that matters, not the speed with which it is agreed. In complex negotiations, patience is a virtue."

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