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EU says Brexit talks could be delayed after hung parliament shocks Westminster

EU says Brexit talks could be delayed after hung parliament shocks Westminster

Emilio Casalicchio

3 min read

Brexit negotiations could be delayed while the UK works out how to handle last night’s shock election result, the EU has said.

European Council president Donald Tusk said "we don't know when Brexit talks start" - despite expectations they would begin on 19 June.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said talks should begin “when the UK is ready”.

It comes after a stunning election result produced a hung Parliament, with the Conservatives set to win just 318 seats, with Labour on 261.

Theresa May had repeatedly insisted Brexit talks would begin eleven days after the election, arguing Mr Corbyn would not be ready if he won the snap vote.

But PoliticsHome revealed last week that the European Commission was prepared to delay the start of negotiations if the Labour leader won - since the start date would have to be agreed by both sides.

Mr Barnier tweeted this morning, confirming the story.

Meanwhile, European Council president Donald Tusk said Brussels has no idea when Brexit talks will begin.

Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, said Mrs May had scored an “own goal” and made Brexit negotiations more complicated.

He added: “I thought surrealism was a Belgian invention.”

Sophie in 't Veld, Mr Verhofstadt’s deputy, told the BBC: “The mood in the EU is not at all one of glee.

“Everyone is very worried; very concerned... It is very important that we start the talks as soon as possible and we find agreement.”

Meanwhile former European Parliament president Martin Schulz, who is hoping to win the German chancellorship in September, tweeted that he was preparing for talks with Mr Corbyn.

But Mr Corbyn insisted whoever manages to form the next government, Brexit talks would have to begin in eleven days.

“They are going to have to go ahead because Article 50 has been invoked,” he said this morning from Labour HQ.

“The government in office, in 11 days’ time, will have to conduct those Brexit negotiations.”

Senior Downing Street sources have insisted Mrs May is now focused on trying to form a government and would not be walking away so close to the Brexit talks. 

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