Talks over Britain’s departure from the EU should be as short as possible to avoid prolonged uncertainty, prime ministerial candidate and energy minister Andrea Leadsom said on Monday as she launched her leadership bid.
Leadsom, 53, second-favorite in the race to succeed David Cameron, was a leading figure in the campaign to leave the EU. Her position differs from favorite Theresa May, who backed the “Remain” campaign and believes Article 50, which starts the formal process of EU withdrawal, might not be invoked until next year. May believes that it is in the best interest of the UK to first negotiate an exit strategy before triggering Article 50.
“I intend to keep the negotiations as short as possible,” she told reporters. “Neither we, nor our European friends, need prolonged uncertainty and not everything needs to be negotiated before Article 50 is triggered, and the exit process is concluded.”
“I’m not setting a specific time,” Leadsom stated. “I’m saying we need to treat this with urgency, we need to get a grip on it. We need to not have a period of uncertainty. We need to work as hard as we can and as fast as we can to achieve the real opportunities from leaving the EU.”
Leadsom went on to state that she would ensure that the United Kingdom will not split despite demands for a second independence referendum in pro-EU Scotland following last month’s narrow victory for “Brexit”.
Justice Secretary Michael Gove, former Defence Secretary Liam Fox and Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb will also stand for Conservative leadership. Conservative MPs will gradually reduce the five contestants to two from Tuesday and party members will cast their votes to determine David Cameron’s successor in early September.
It was also announced on Monday that the leader of Britain’s anti-European Union UK Independence Party (UKIP) Nigel Farage would stand down after having realized his ambition of winning last month’s referendum in favor of Brexit.
“I have never been, and I have never wanted to be, a career politician. My aim in being in politics was to get Britain out of the European Union,” he told reporters.
“So I feel it’s right that I should now stand aside as leader of UKIP.
“During the referendum campaign, I said ‘I want my country back’. What I’m saying today, is, ‘I want my life back,’ and it begins right now.”
It is not the first time Farage has quit as leader of the party. He stood down in May 2015 after failing to win a parliamentary seat to become MP for South Thanet in last year’s general election. However, his party rejected the resignation because the party’s “election campaign had been a great success” and Farage withdraw his resignation three days later to help lead the “Leave” campaign.
He said he would continue to support the party, and continue to watch Brussels “like a hawk” during the negotiations around Britain’s exit from the EU.
He dismissed the prospect of standing as an MP again in the future, claiming it was no longer on the top of his bucket list. However, the MEP raised the idea of taking part in negotiations concerning the UK’s exit strategy, stating he “might have something to give”. Farage asserted that UKIP would campaign against the government “backsliding” on Britain’s departure.
He also said that he and other UKIP MEPs would remain in the European parliament until Britain formally exits the EU and the positions no longer existed. “The Ukippers will have been the turkeys who voted for Christmas,” he added.
He reiterated his view that Britain’s new prime minister needed to be from the “Leave” campaign but declined to back a specific candidate out of Andrea Leadsom, Michael Gove or Liam Fox. Current frontrunner Theresa May backed “Remain”.
Farage, 52, has been a member of UKIP since its 1993 birth and was first elected to the European Parliament in 1999. He was the leader from 2006 to 2009 and returned to the position following the 2010 election.
Possible candidates to succeed Farage as UKIP leader are deputy leader Paul Nuttall, culture spokesman Peter Whittle, immigration spokesman Steven Woolfe and MEP Diane James.
Dougal Carswell, the party’s only MP, ruled out standing for leadership. “I’m certainly not going to stand to lead UKIP,” he told the BBC today.
Suzanne Evans, the former deputy party chairman, told Sky News that she would have liked to run for leader but is not able to because she was suspended from UKIP for six months in March over suspected disloyalty to the party.