THE British government is likely to trigger article 50 early next year, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has claimed.
But Downing Street has refused to confirm Johnson’s unusually frank statement on the move, which would kickstart the process of Britain leaving the European Union (EU).
Once article 50 is invoked, Britain has two years to negotiate a withdrawal from the EU.
Johnson said the government is ‘talking to our European friends and partners now in the expectation that by the early part of next year you will see an article 50 letter’.
He added: “We will invoke that, and in that letter I’m sure we will be setting out some parameters for how we propose to take this forward.
“I don’t actually think we will necessarily need to spend a full two years.”
However, Prime Minister Theresa May, who has been annoyed with ministers making statements on how Brexit might play out, was keeping her cards close to her chest.
A Number 10 spokesperson said: “The government’s position has not changed – we will not trigger article 50 before the end of 2016 and we are using this time to prepare for the negotiations.”