LONDON (Reuters) - Andrea Leadsom, one of five candidates to succeed David Cameron as British prime minister, said on Sunday she would be quick to start the process of negotiating the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Asked when she would trigger article 50, the step that will formally begin the process, Leadsom declined to give an exact framework but made clear she thought it should happen as quickly as possible.
“We need to get on with it, we need to seize the opportunity,” she told BBC television.
“It’s about giving certainty to businesses, it’s about saying to the world ‘we’re open for business’. Let’s start getting some free trade agreements started as soon as we can. We need to get on with it, we need to get a grip and make progress.”
Leadsom, a prominent campaigner for a “Leave” vote ahead of the June 23 referendum which saw Britain vote to quit the EU, has emerged in the early stages of the contest to succeed Cameron as one of strongest candidates from the Brexit camp.
The front-runner is Home Secretary Theresa May, who campaigned for a “Remain” vote. May said on Thursday she would not trigger article 50 this year.
“The next person to lead this country has to somebody who believes in the opportunity of leaving the EU,” Leadsom said.
She added that she was confident Britain could continue to trade tariff-free with EU countries after Brexit.
“I genuinely believe on trade with the EU ... there are very strong reasons both financial and for reasons of links we will continue to trade tariff-free.”
Reporting by Estelle Shirbon and Michael Holden, editing by Paul Sandle