Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage are the only people with the "credibility" to conduct Britain's negotiations to exit the European Union, Conservative grandee Michael Heseltine has said. In an interview with Sky News today (26 June), Heseltine said: "The truth is, unpalatable though I believe it to be, is there are only three people who can have credibility with the exiters in conducting those negotiations. That is Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage.
"Let's face up to it. Unless you put them in charge and they're seen to be in charge, they will simply say that the negotiators screwed it up and the debate will go on." He added that he believed voters were misled about "the potential of a better world".
Cameron said that he will wait for his successor to trigger Article 50 (which sets out the procedure to be followed if a Member State decides to leave the EU) and that a new leader should be in place by the Conservative Party conference in October. But European leaders seem to be split on the issue, with some saying that fresh leadership should be decided soon so that talks can get underway to stop rising uncertainty across the continent, while others say that Britain should not be punished for voting to leave the EU.
"We expect the British government to deliver now," said Martin Schulz, the president of the European parliament. "The summit on Tuesday is the appropriate moment to do so."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the EU has "no need to be particularly nasty in any way", but also warned Britain that it cannot leave other countries in limbo. "It shouldn't take forever, that's right, but I would not fight for a short timeframe," said Merkel.
Outlining his concerns over Britain's bargaining power in negotiations, Heseltine said: "The Europeans have said: 'No. We're not going to change. You're not going to get a deal which would undermine the fundamentals of Europe.'
"What does that do to the 47% of our trade that goes to Europe and the jobs that depend on it? There has to be an answer to that question, because what Brexit said is that we'll sort it all out and it'll take a long time. What the Europeans have said is: 'Go now. Just go, because we're not going to give you the easy deal that you thought you'd get.'"
Speaking to Reuters earlier today, former Finnish prime minister, Alexander Stubb called for calm and rational steps. "This will be an extremely complicated set of negotiations, there will be hundreds and thousands of legal, political and economic implications," he said.
"After the initial shock, we should now take it easy and be patient, one step at a time. We should not be childish in thinking about punishing the UK. It's not in the interest of Europe to cut relations with the United Kingdom and it's not in the interest of the UK to be cut off from the continent immediately either."