WARSAW (Reuters) – It is in Poland’s interest that Britain remains a European Union member and pays into the bloc’s budget for as long as possible, Rzeczpospolita daily quoted Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski as saying on Tuesday.
Earlier in November, Waszczykowski’s deputy said Britain should keep paying into the EU’s budget until the end of the current budget period in 2020 after voting in a June referendum to leave the 28-country bloc.
“It is in our interest that Britain remain an EU state as long as possible and pay contributions as long as possible,” Waszczykowski told Rzeczpospolita daily.
Waszczykowski was among ministers who accompanied Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo on a visit to London on Monday.
“Brexit will not take place earlier than in 2-3 years. If it takes place at all,” Waszczykowski also told the paper.
“In the next three years there is no need to treat Britain as a child with special needs, which is stigmatized and marginalized.”
On Monday, Szydlo and British premier Theresa May discussed defense, security and trade as well as the post-Brexit rights of 3 million EU nationals living in Britain, which according to a 2015 estimate included 831,000 Poles.
Britain is seeking to strengthen ties with Poland, which joined the European Union in 2004, has been one of London’s closest allies in calling for reform of the bloc. Szydlo’s government also sees Britain as a focus of its foreign policy.
May currently plans to initiate a two-year divorce process from the EU next March.
Waszczykowski also said that if he were European Council President Donald Tusk, he would “not dare” seek a second term in the post without the support of the Polish government.
Tusk is a considered a political foe by Waszczykowski’s conservative and eurosceptic Law and Justice party (PiS). Formerly head of the center-right, pro-European Civic Platform party, he served two terms as Poland’s prime minister before resigning in 2014 to take the top European Union job.
(Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; Editing by Catherine Evans)