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Principale » May's 'own goal' makes Brexit talks a messy prospect, say European Union leaders

May's 'own goal' makes Brexit talks a messy prospect, say European Union leaders

09 Juin 2017

Theresa May's Brexit strategy is in tatters.

"The prime minister called this election because she wanted to force through an extreme version of Brexit", Labour's shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said. "Let's put our minds together on striking a deal", he tweeted on Friday morning. May has already promised parliament a "meaningful" vote on that deal.

But while the new parliament is less able to pursue a "hard" Brexit consciously, its own internal divisions reduce its ability to agree to a negotiating position at all, which means that crashing out of the EU's Single Market by accident in 2019 is a real possibility.

However, the inconclusive election result will further add to Europe's frustration. Two months ago the pollsters have decided his crash.

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the "timetable and EU positions are clear", but indicated a lenient approach when he added that talks should start "when the United Kingdom is ready".

Meanwhile, EU leaders voiced concern that the British Tories' loss of their parliamentary majority would delay Brexit negotiations.

The pound slumped amid another bout of British political uncertainty nearly a year since the narrow vote to leave the EU. An extension to the two-year negotiation period is only possible with unanimity from the remaining 27 member states.

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The other 27 governments are particularly concerned that a breakdown in negotiations could lead to Britain ceasing to be a member on March 30, 2019, as laid out in Article 50 of the European Union treaty, without negotiating the kind of divorce terms that would avoid a chaotic legal limbo for people and businesses. That now seems completely impossible. "A weakened partner weakens the negotiations overall".

"We need a government that is capable of action, which can negotiate Britain's exit... the British need to negotiate their exit but with a weak negotiating partner, there is a danger that the talks are bad for both parties", Oettinger, who is responsible for the European Union budget, told German radio.

There was dismay that valuable negotiating time would probably be lost while a new Brexit team and goals were drawn up.

"But whether the other side can even begin remains to be seen in the next few hours or the next few days, because without a government, no negotiations".

The latest reports suggest that Prime Minister Theresa May has agreed a deal with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party and will head to Buckingham Palace later today to ask permission of the Queen to form the next government.

However, Darius McDermott, managing director of FundCalibre, believes May's hard Brexit rhetoric was playing to domestic politics and that with a stronger Conservative majority she would have delivered a more moderate outcome.