UK election raises Brexit doubts

The UK election result leading to a "hung" Parliament has thrown doubt on the country’s Brexit negotiations, which are due to begin in earnest in just 10 days.

From the EU’s perspective, the upset seems to mean a possible delay of talks and an increased risk that negotiations would fail.

"We need a government that can act," EU Budget Commissioner Guenther Oettinger told German broadcaster Deutschlandfunk, according to Bloomberg. "With a weak negotiating partner, there’s a danger that the negotiations will turn out badly for both sides."

Asked at a news conference whether negotiations should be extended in light of the election result, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said: "Before negotiations can be extended, they first need to start," reports the BBC.

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said his bloc’s stance on Brexit and the timetable for the talks were clear, but the divorce negotiations should only start when Britain is ready.

"Let’s put our minds together on striking a deal," he said, but added: "Brexit negotiations should start when (the) UK is ready."
Negotiations had been due to start on 19 June but opinion is split on whether that can now happen.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose party stunned the country by gaining as many as 29 seats, said the negotiations will "have to go ahead" because Article 50 has been invoked.

He told Sky News: "The government in office in 11 days time will have to conduct those Brexit negotiations. Our position is very clear – we want a ‘jobs first’ Brexit, therefore the most important thing is the trade deal with Europe."

Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian Prime Minister, described the general election result as "yet another own goal" for the UK, according to newspaper The Telegraph.

The European Parliament’s negotiator for Brexit, Verhofstadt wrote: "After Cameron now May, will make already complex negotiations even more complicated."

Image by Lucian Milasan/Dreamstime

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