London, July 7 (IANS) Britain insisted on Thursday that it cannot begin negotiations with Brussels about leaving the European Union.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Philip Hammond said the country is “not in a position” to negotiate and therefore activating Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty would be “unwise”.
“Article 50 sets a clock ticking and I don’t think at the moment, for various reasons — not least of which, we don’t have the new Prime Minister in post — for the moment we are in a position to begin substantive negotiations immediately,” Efe news quoted him as saying.
Hammond denied that the country would “unilaterally” guarantee the rights of EU citizens in Britain without first negotiating with EU members to be certain there is reciprocity.
He added this was for the next Prime Minister of Britain to decide.
Hammond showed he was willing to have informal conversations with Brussels about the status of expatriates, but lamented that European institutions do not want to discuss anything until Article 50 is triggered.
“If the bureaucrats in Brussels would say today we are happy to sit down and talk to British Government about a deal that assures the mutual rights of citizens in each others countries, I’m sure Britain would be happy to engage in this process,” he said.
The British Conservative Party is immersed in internal elections to choose a substitute for Prime Minister and party leader David Cameron, who resigned after the Brexit campaign’s victory.