LONDON, England – The British defense minister says the United Kingdom will fully break up with the European Union (EU), dismissing calls for a “soft Brexit.”
Michael Fallon said the government of Prime Minister Theresa May will not have the “soft Brexit” option on the table, The Daily Express reported on Saturday.
“It is not hard or soft, it is full Brexit,” said Fallon. “We are leaving the European Union.”
He said the option of soft Brexit, which was introduced by those who had supported the country’s remaining in the union, would keep Britain’s borders open to refugees.
The so-called hard Brexit, instead suggests surrendering access to the European Union’s single market and scrapping free movement of EU nationals in return for securing control over immigration.
Leave campaigners said Brexit would give Britain back its control over immigration. There are an estimated 117,234 refugees living in the UK. This, however, is only 0.18 percent of an unprecedented 65 million people, who have been forced to flee conflict-ridden zones in Africa and the Middle East.
“It is full Brexit. We are working up a plan,” said Fallon. ”The Government didn’t have a plan on June 24, that’s because the Government was arguing for Remain.
“We weren’t drawing up a plan because we were hoping to win the referendum.”
Fallon stressed that “we have to make a success of the exit and that is going to require a huge amount of work on our side and the European side too.”
On June 23, some 52 percent (17.4 million) of British people voted to leave the EU after 43 years of membership.
The vote results, which released on the following day, sent shock waves throughout the world and prompted former Prime Minister David Cameron to step down.
“Now we are getting down to it and plotting the negotiation strategy which will take us out,” Fallon added.
While May has consistently been urged to trigger Article 50 – the formal mechanism for Britain leaving the EU – she says it will not be triggered this year.
She has also insisted that she would not rush to show “rapid progress” in Brexit negotiations, saying the process should be “sober and considered.”
Starting the negotiations would begin a two-year countdown for the UK to separate itself from Brussels.