EU presses Britain to get its act together for Brexit talks

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May

Carrying the flag of Europe and wearing politicians masks, the protest centred around the Houses of Parliament.

Tusk tweeted: "We don't know when Brexit talks start".

British voters failed to deliver a widely expected parliamentary majority for the Conservative party in Thursday's general election, dealing a major blow to Prime Minister Theresa May just days ahead of hard Brexit talks with the EU.

The UK's exit talks with the European Union are slated to start on June 19, but with uncertainty over who will form a government after the Conservatives lost their majority in the general election, they could be pushed back. "May did not manage to get the strong mandate she was asking for to conduct the negotiations, but it is not clear whether people did not share her stance on Brexit or whether they dealt her a devastating blow because they simply don't trust her to lead the divorce talks with the European Union".

As British politics has tumbled through its various stages of turbulence, the European side has steadily locked down its stance, assembling negotiating teams, agreeing on common positions and issuing position papers.

With a 20 percentage point lead over the Labour Party in the opinion polls, May had calculated in April that her Conservative Party would easily build on its thin majority in a snap election, allowing her to mute pro-European voices within her own party.

May, who had campaigned against Brexit past year, delivered her terms for withdrawal on March 29 that included a clean break from the European Union single market.

Germany's European affairs minister Michael Roth said that time was tight until the expiry of a two-year window to reach a negotiated deal: "We should not waste any time", he said. Oettinger added that "without a government, there's no negotiation".




"A request to pause the Brexit negotiations may be one possibility, but it is not clear how that would work as there is no precedent".

Talk in Britain that a different ruling coalition could seek a "softer" Brexit than May has proposed, possibly seeking to remain in the single market, is also problematic for the EU.

Yet another own goal, after Cameron now May, will make already complex negotiations even more complicated.

Brussels' chief negotiator Michel Barnier said Brexit talks could wait until the new government was ready. "We know when they must end", he said, referring to the March 2019 deadline. "Let's put our minds together on striking a deal", he said on Twitter.

"I think the message of the election is: have fair discussions with the European Union and have another think about whether it is good for Britain to leave the European Union in this way", Gabriel added.

Though The Guardian reports that there are fears in the EU Parliament that the "hung parliament and weak prime minister are a "disaster" that threaten negotiations", it seems likely that Brexit will go ahead regardless.

"The British have spoken, they have voted, and have given the Conservative party a majority, albeit a simple majority, which is something of a surprise", Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on France's Europe 1 radio station.

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