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May’s election debacle poses uncertainty to Brexit talks

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Published: 09:40 GMT, Jun 10, 2017 |
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The election debacle of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party on Thursday has posed uncertainty over Brexit talks, while the European Union (EU) said on Friday that it is ready to start the negotiation.

The EU is “ready and well-prepared” to begin the Brexit negotiation, a spokesman of the European Commission said on Friday after Britain’s snap election resulted in a hung parliament 10 days before talks on Britain’s EU departure are due to begin.

“The European Commission are ready to do business and ready to start negotiations. We hope that the UK will be able to form a stable government as soon as possible. And our negotiating team headed by Michel Barnier is very well prepared,” Alexander Winterstein, deputy chief spokesperson of the Commission, said at the midday press briefing.

May confirmed Friday afternoon she will form a Westminster government, helped by members of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

The 318 seats won by the Conservatives in the election on Thursday, plus the 10 DUP seats will give May the majority she needs in the House of Commons.

Akash Paun, Fellow with the British think tank Institute for Government, said that the Conservatives are unlikely to form a coalition government with the DUP.

“I don’t think there’s gonna be any non-Conservative ministers in the government. The indication from Theresa May’s statement was that there would be more like informal cooperation between the Conservative government and the DUP as a sort of support party. I think a formal coalition would be unlikely,” said Paun.

May had focused her election pitch on the need to guarantee a “strong and stable” government capable of successfully delivering the “Hard Brexit” the conservative party wants to achieve by leaving the EU as well as the European Single Market.

Her failure to secure sufficient votes has been widely interpreted as a victory for proponents of a “Soft Brexit” wherein Britain maintains close economic ties to the EU.

Supporting the “Soft Brexit”, the DUP demands stay in the European Single Market and maintenance of opening border to Ireland.

“The prime minister is clear that she’s planning to press ahead with her objectives and her strategy for Brexit, but she is obviously now in a weaker position domestically. Probably on some of the detail of what’s our future relationship with the EU is going to look like, she might come under pressure to, maybe to go for a softer form of exit,” said Paun.