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Britain, EU at Odds Over Split Timing  06/25 07:13

   Britain and the EU haven't even begun divorce talks but they are already 
bickering, as political and economic shockwaves from the British vote spread 
around the world.

   LONDON (AP) -- Britain and the EU haven't even begun divorce talks but they 
are already bickering, as political and economic shockwaves from the British 
vote spread around the world.

   EU diplomats meeting in Berlin told Britain to hurry up and trigger the 
formal exit process -- something the U.K. has said won't happen for several 
months.

   French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said "there is a certain urgency 
... so that we don't have a period of uncertainty, with financial consequences, 
political consequences."

   Meanwhile, Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon said her semi-autonomous 
administration would start immediate talks with the EU to ensure Scotland could 
remain in the bloc despite the U.K.-wide vote to leave. A majority of Scots 
backed staying in the union, but a majority in much-larger England voted to 
quit.

   After meeting with her Cabinet in Edinburgh, Sturgeon said "we will seek to 
enter into immediate discussion" with other EU nations and institutions to 
"explore possible options to protect Scotland's place in the EU."

   She said a new referendum on Scottish independence from the United Kingdom 
is "very much on the table."

   Scotland voted in 2014 to remain a part of the U.K., but that decision was 
seen by many as conditional on the U.K. remaining in the EU.

   The victorious "leave" campaigners in Thursday's referendum have said there 
is no rush to trigger Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon treaty, which will begin a 
two-year exit process to renegotiate trade, business and political links 
between the U.K. and what will become a 27-nation bloc.

   Prime Minister David Cameron, who announced his resignation Friday, said his 
successor, to be chosen by October, should start the process.

   The favorite to succeed him, London Mayor Boris Johnson, has aid there is 
"no need for haste" --- but EU leaders are saying the opposite.

   European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said Saturday that the 
British had voted to leave, and "it doesn't make any sense to wait until 
October to try and negotiate the terms of their departure."

   "I would like to get started immediately," he said.

   Juncker said the split was "not an amicable divorce" --- adding that it was 
never "a tight love affair anyway."

   Top diplomats from the European Union's six founding nations --- France, 
Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg --- met in Berlin for 
hastily arranged talks and stressed that the exit process should be speedy.

   Luxembourg Foreign Minister said he hoped there would be no "cat and mouse" 
game.

   "There must be clarity," Asselborn told reporters. "The people have spoken 
and we need to implement this decision."

   The referendum has triggered political and financial turmoil around the 
world. Stock markets plummeted Friday, with the Dow Jones industrial average 
dropping 611 points, or 3.4 percent, its biggest fall since August.

   The pound dropped to its lowest level since 1985, plunging more than 10 
percent from about $1.50 to $1.35 before a slight recovery, on concerns that 
severing ties with the single market will hurt the U.K. economy and undermine 
London's position as a global financial center.

   Credit rating agency Moody's downgraded the U.K.'s economic outlook from 
stable to negative, saying Britain faces "a prolonged period of uncertainty ... 
with negative implications for the country's medium-term growth outlook."

   The vote to leave the EU also caused an earthquake in British politics. The 
Conservatives are facing a leadership battle to replace Cameron, and some 
members of the opposition Labour Party also hope to oust their leader, Jeremy 
Corbyn.

   Many Labour lawmakers were strongly pro-"remain" and accuse the socialist 
Corbyn, a longtime critic of the EU, of failing to rally Labour supporters 
behind staying in the bloc.

   Labour legislator Frank Field said Saturday that Corbyn "clearly isn't the 
right person to actually lead the party into an election because nobody thinks 
he will actually win."

   "We clearly need somebody who the public think of as an alternative prime 
minister," Field told BBC radio.

   Corbyn said Saturday he would not resign, and said Britain must react 
"calmly and rationally" to the divisive referendum result.

   Corbyn told a meeting in London Saturday that politicians needed to take 
seriously voters' concerns about immigration, which led many to back a British 
exit from the 28-nation EU.

   Corbyn said "we must talk about immigration . but we will never pander to 
prejudice." 


(KA)

 
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