No substantive Brexit talks ‘for 12 months’

Former European Council president Herman Van Rompuy has warned that substantive Brexit talks between the UK and the rest of the EU are unlikely to start before the end of 2017.

Speaking to the BBC, Van Rompuy said the UK would have to make the ‘first move’ in negotiations, but they remain unlikely until a new German government was formed after next September's election.

Following the referendum on 23 June, Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly said that she will not trigger Article 50 - the formal start of the process of leaving the EU - before 2017.

Whilst addressing the mater on BBC Radio Four’s Today programme, he denied that leaders wanted to ‘punish’ the UK for leaving the EU, but said there was a desire not to encourage other countries to leave. Discussing the UK's decision to leave the EU, Van Rompuy used the words ‘political amputation of the first degree’.

Van Rompuy was president of the European Council, which defines the EU's overall political direction and priorities, from 2009 until 2014.