Substantive Brexit talks a year away

A week ago this blog suggested that the government shouldn’t rush to invoke article 50. One of the reasons it gave was that the government would do better to wait until it knew who it was negotiating with. That meant waiting until after the French and German elections.

Today, Former European Council president Herman Van Rompuy told the BBC that substantive Brexit talks would have to wait until after a new German government has formed in September 2017. (The French government will have already formed by then.) Here’s what he had to say:

“Before the German elections and before there is a new German government, I think no serious negotiations will take place.

“You can always start with more technical matters, but the hardcore, the difficult topics, will be tackled after the constitution of a new German government and that will be October/November.”

So far the government has said that it will not invoke article 50 before the start of next year.

The EU is anxious for Britain to invoke article 50 “as soon as possible”. But as Donald Tusk admittedly recently, the ball is in Britain’s court. In other words, it is for Britain to decide when to invoke article 50.