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Merkel assumes May will stick to Brexit talks plan


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". European Union officials have warned talks shouldn't be delayed and have expressed their fear that with the government weakened by the election result the talks could become even more complicated. At a time of vexing external threats, particularly terrorism, Britain now had to deal with a thoroughly self-inflicted headache.

Mr Davis added: "In the first round we are going to have pretty long meetings at roughly one week a month - which is much, much faster than any previous trade deal they have done".

The EU will force a humiliated Theresa May to explain her intentions in Brussels as senior figures warned that with the clock ticking on Brexit negotiations, Britain's hung parliament was an "own goal" and a "disaster" that risked delaying or derailing the talks.

That has now all gone up in smoke.

But without the strong mandate Mrs May had hoped for, and with no majority, the UK's strategy for negotiating Brexit has been thrown into uncertainty.

Winterstein said the commission was "quite confident" that so-called technical talks to pave the way for the Barnier-Davis negotiations could begin as early as this week.

In a way, the British election result also validated the decision by European Union officials to try to spend little time on Brexit, and instead focus on bread-and-butter issues that voters really care about.

May Friday insisted that she would stick to the Brexit timetable.

"There is no doubt Brexit will happen, but things have become more complicated". "It is not only about the United Kingdom, but also about the future of Europe".

These include a clean break from the EU's single market and customs union.

May had spent the campaign denouncing Corbyn as the weak leader of a spendthrift party that would crash Britain's economy and flounder in Brexit talks, while she would provide "strong and stable leadership" to clinch a good deal for Britain.


Pro-Brexit politicians also sensed a shift.

But Sophie in 't Veld, a Dutch ALDE MEP, probably captured the dominant feeling in Brussels when she tweeted about the Conservative Party's habit of gambling with elections.

The decision of Britain to leave was a shocking and cathartic moment in the 60-year history of the bloc, whose member states want to keep Britain as a close partner once it is out. No one is questioning it. "With a weak negotiating partner, there's a danger the negotiations will turn out badly".

That threat and the rejuvenation of Jeremy Corbyn's opposition Labour Party will intensify pressure on the next government to do more to preserve access to Britain's biggest market than May was willing to.

"Half past nine", suggested EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

"EU did not want #Brexit, but has been prepared to negotiate it since past year", tweeted Siegfried Muresan, spokesperson for the European Parliament's largest grouping, the center-right European People's Party (EPP).

"During that time, the British government has not been practically capable to open negotiations with the EU", Sobotka said.

"As a Brexiteer who believes in it with all his heart and soul, my fear is that Corbyn forms a coalition with the SNP and a few Lib Dems and we look down the barrels of a second referendum in a few years time", Farage said.

"I think it will be much messier now and negotiations will be much more hard", he said.

Pierre Briançon in Paris and Matthew Karnitschnig in Berlin contributed reporting.

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