UK pressured to leave European Union ‘as soon as possible’


CHENGDU, China – The United Kingdom has come under pressure by some European and Asian countries to start the process of leaving the European Union as soon as possible.

Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 countries (G20), who are meeting in China’s southwestern city of Chengdu for the first time since the Brexit vote, expressed concern that a long delay to start the exit negotiations could add to uncertainties that are dragging on the world economy.

“We have to have certainty now around the timetable,” French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said. “We say that not to put undue pressure on the British authorities but because I believe that is what everyone – all observers and the markets – need.”

“I hope that there is going to be clarification about the timing and process of the divorce,” Italy’s Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said. “The sooner the better so this generates a new equilibrium.”

Some Asian G20 countries have also joined the chorus, calling for “UK-EU negotiations to settle quickly.”

“If it doesn’t act quickly, negative effects on corporate investment would be prolonged,” said an official from an Asian G20 country. “We want UK-EU negotiations to settle quickly in a way that won’t affect business strategies in our country.”

The United States, however, called for patience, saying the process is too sensitive to be rushed.

“My own view is that there is undue weight being given to a calendar which is going to take a while to resolve, regardless of when you actually begin the Article 50,” said a senior US Treasury official.

“The thing that would be very disruptive is a highly confrontational process,” the official added.

On June 23, some 52 percent (17.4 million) of British people voted in a referendum to leave the EU after 43 years of membership, while roughly 48 percent (16.14 million) of people voted to stay in the union.

The results of the referendum prompted David Cameron to step down as prime minister and leave the exit process to his successor Theresa May, who was named within a few weeks after his resignation.

May, however, has indicated she does not plan to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty initiating the UK’s departure from the EU before the end of 2016.