Sunday, 20 May, 2018
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel urges speedy Brexit talks after United Kingdom vote

Angela Merkel has been criticised for backing a Dutch decision to bar Turkish ministers from holding rallies Image Angela Merkel says she wants the UK to remain 'a good partner'
Bennie Garza | 12 June, 2017, 11:37

There was Schadenfreude, for sure, but no trash talk - not yet.

As news of British mayhem broke, Juncker was launching a new push for an expanded European Union defence project which Britain has long opposed, fearing a clash with the US -led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance.

If talks are delayed for long - and if British political turmoil continues - then the timetable for Brexit will slip while uncertainty could undermine economic confidence. Will the United Kingdom take a new, hard line? It underlines how little Brexit mattered in May's decision to hold this vote. Now that it chose to jump ship, it seems it can't get its act together to actually leave. Privately, EU officials reacted with consternation that an already tough situation just got tougher.

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said there was a risk Britain could be left with "no deal" if talks in Brussels were delayed.

Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament's top Brexit official, is eager to get talks started.

"That's what it was about, that's what we put in front of the people, we'll see tomorrow whether they've accepted that or not".

European Union leaders question how any British government could persuade voters to accept such an outcome and so would be wary of starting down the path of negotiating it for fear of ending up without a deal that both sides could ratify in 2019.

Speaking during a visit to Mexico, Mrs Merkel ended her brief period of "polite" restraint from commenting on Mrs May's catastrophic poll.

"As far as the commission is concerned, we can open negotiations tomorrow morning at half-past nine", he said. "What the new setup means for Brexit, we will have to wait and see".

Other EU politicians warned a weakened Westminster government could undermine the Brexit process, with one describing the snap General Election as "yet another own goal". That's now up in smoke.

Attention will now focus on whether May can rule with the help of the staunchly pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party after they struck a deal on Friday.

But he added: "I don't think we should read these results as calling into question the stance on Brexit which was clearly expressed by the British people". The next parliament will face the excruciating task of forming a government, and that government will need to navigate hard decisions as it moves towards delivering Brexit to a deeply divided and polarised nation. I won't vote for her party, but the campaign has been informative. At a time of vexing external threats, particularly terrorism, Britain now had to deal with a thoroughly self-inflicted headache.

Seven weeks after she called a snap election to strengthen her hand for the looming divorce talks, May's premiership was on the line Friday with her Conservative Party preparing to govern without a parliamentary majority.

That has now all gone up in smoke.

European Union officials and leaders, including Germany's Angela Merkel, had grown impatient with the U.K.as it prepared to begin formal talks to exit from the trading bloc almost a year after the country's citizens voted to abandon its membership.

The EU27 want to begin negotiations as soon as possible. That will have a big impact on Brexit.

This is not the approach adopted by the PM, who plans to withdraw from the single market and customs union and bring net migration below 100,000. "If we are together, we are!"

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. No one is questioning it.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said the government's view of Brexit had not changed.

"There is no doubt Brexit will happen, but things have become more complicated", he added. He wants a trade deal and a guarantee that European Union worker rights be preserved as part of any Brexit agreement. Article 50 allows for an extension to the two-year deadline if the other states unanimously agree.

"As I reflect on the results I will reflect on what we need to do in the future to take the party forward", May said on Friday in a televised statement.

Pierre Brian├žon in Paris and Matthew Karnitschnig in Berlin contributed reporting.

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