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  World   Europe  10 Jun 2017  Brexit talks ‘hang’ after hung Parliament

Brexit talks ‘hang’ after hung Parliament

Published : Jun 10, 2017, 5:47 am IST
Updated : Jun 10, 2017, 5:47 am IST

EU leaders fear that UK election results will delay exit talks, which were due to start this month.

British Prime Minister Theresa May (Photo: AP)
 British Prime Minister Theresa May (Photo: AP)

Brussels: European Union leaders fear Prime Minister Theresa May’s shock loss of her majority in the snap British election will delay Brexit talks, due to start this month, and so raise the risk of negotiations failing.

“We don’t know when Brexit talks start. We know when they must end,” tweeted Donald Tusk, the EU summit chair overseeing negotiations that the EU had planned to start on June 19.

His reference to the March 2019 deadline when Britain will be out of the European Union with or without an agreed deal to avoid legal limbo for people and businesses reflected mounting concern that British chaos could further disrupt all of Europe.

“Do your best to avoid a ‘no deal’ as result of ‘no negotiations’,” Mr Tusk said, calling for urgency to avert the risk that, having bound Britain in March to a two-year countdown to Brexit, Ms May’s failed electoral gamble could waste further time.

Back in the UK, observers said a surge in youth turnout fuelled by shock Brexit vote played a pivotal role in stripping Ms May of her parliamentary majority.

An energising campaign by Labour’s firebrand leader Jeremy Corbyn and simmering anger among many voters over uncertain plans to leave the European Union sent young Britons streaming to the ballot box.

Some 56 per cent of under-35s voted, according to an exit poll for NME magazine, which recently splashed Mr Corbyn’s face across its cover.

They showed overwhelming support for Labour, at 60 percent, with 36 per cent of them being first-time voters, according to the survey among 1,354 voters.

Half cited Brexit as the “main factor” in their decision to cast a ballot.

The result sent shock wave across Europe. Guenther Oettinger, the German member of the EU executive, warned that a weak British leadership was a problem for the Union. “We need a government that can act,” he told the Deutschlandfunk radio station. “With a weak negotiating partner, there’s the danger that the negotiations will turn out badly.”

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, told a German paper, “It’s up to the British to make the next move ... We’ve been ready to negotiate for months.”

Mr Juncker’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier made clear talks could only now start once Britain has a team in place: “Brexit negotiations should start when UK is ready,” he tweeted.

“Timetable and EU positions are clear. Let’s put our minds together on striking a deal.”

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe was quick to scotch any suggestion that Britain might do a U-turn and ask to stay in the EU — something that would need EU agreement. Few Europeans voiced much sympathy for Ms May. Some compared her to her predecessor David Cam-eron.

“Yet another own goal, after Cameron now May, will make already complex negotiations even more complicated,” tweeted Guy Verhofstadt, the liberal former Belgian premier who is the European Parliament’s point man for the Brexit process.

Tags: theresa may, donald tusk, jeremy corbyn