LONDON, England – Former UK chancellor George Osborne has warned Prime Minister Theresa May against pursuing a “hard Brexit,” saying she will have to compromise in EU exit negotiations.
Speaking at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Osborn warned against the “false logic” of exiting all forms of European co-operation, and against valuing “the dangerous purity of splendid isolation over the practical necessity of co-operation in the real world.”
The so-called hard Brexit, for which May has been pressured by some politicians, suggests surrendering access to the European Union’s single market and scrapping free movement of EU nationals in return for securing control over immigration.
“Brexit won a majority. Hard Brexit did not,” Osborn said. “The mainstream majority in our country do not want to be governed from the extremes.”
On June 23, some 52 percent (17.4 million) of British people voted to leave the EU after 43 years of membership.
The vote called Brexit sent shockwaves throughout the world and prompted the EU members to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – the step required to officially begin the withdrawal — as soon as possible in an effort to end what they called political and economic uncertainty.
Osborne, who campaigned not to leave the union, said that “Britain cannot expect to maintain all the benefits that came from EU membership without incurring any of the costs or the obligations. There will have to be compromise.”
He further said that serious exit talks would not be triggered until after the French and German elections next year.
Starting the negotiations would begin a two-year countdown for the UK to separate itself from Brussels.
Last week, European Council President Donald Tusk said that May had told him that her government could be ready to begin talks by February 2017. He said the rest of the EU, however, is ready to start negotiations “tomorrow.”