Brexit leader Boris Johnson says there's no rush to leave the EU. The EU sharply disagrees.

Boris Johnson says there's not hurry to leave the EU
(Image credit: Mary Turner - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Boris Johnson — a former mayor of London, possible next prime minister, and leader of the push for Britain to leave the European Union — said Friday morning that just because UK voters voted to exit the EU, "we are part of Europe, our children and our grandchildren will continue to have a wonderful future as Europeans." After praising Prime Minister David Cameron, whom he defeated in the referendum, as "one of the most extraordinary politicians of our age," Johnson said that "in voting to leave the EU, it is vital to stress there is no need for haste.... There is no need to invoke Article 50," the clause that begins the process of extricating a country from the EU.

The leaders of the EU — European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, leader of the European Parliament President Martin Schulz, European Council President Donald Tusk, and the rotating head of the EU council, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte — disagreed, apparently eager to rip off the band-aid. "We now expect the United Kingdom government to give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible, however painful that process may be," they said in a joint statement. "We stand ready to launch negotiations swiftly with the United Kingdom regarding the terms and conditions of its withdrawal from the European Union." Until that time, Britain is a full member of the EU, but afterward, "the Union of 27 member states will continue."

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.