EU: Brexit plans unchanged by UK snap election call

European Council expects full negotiations to start in June as planned despite Theresa May calling for snap UK election.

    EU: Brexit plans unchanged by UK snap election call
    May has said 'there can be no turning back' on Britain's decision to leave the EU [Dan Kitwood/Reuters]

    The European Union will stick to a timetable for preparing to launch Brexit negotiations with the UK despite the British government's call for an early general election, an EU spokesperson said.

    In a surprise move on Tuesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May called for a snap general election on June 8 as the country prepares for delicate Brexit talks.

    "The UK elections do not change our EU27 plans," Preben Aamann, a spokesperson for European Council President Donald Tusk, said in a statement.

    Tusk will chair a summit of the other 27 EU national leaders in Brussels on April 29, where he expects them to agree negotiating guidelines he has proposed.

    EU issues draft guidelines for Brexit

    On May 22, governments should agree the directives that EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier needs in order to launch the formal talks, Aamann said.

    Barnier has said he expects full negotiations to start in early June, although it remains unclear what the British position on that will be given the electoral timetable.

    May formally triggered a two-year countdown to Brexit on March 29.

    She had said in her announcement "there can be no turning back" on Britain's decision to leave the EU, something she herself had campaigned against before last year's referendum.

    Tusk said on Twitter that he had a "good" telephone conversation with May after she called for the election.

    In a separate tweet, the former Polish premier likened the surprising twist in the Brexit saga to a movie plot by British master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock.

    "It was Hitchcock who directed Brexit: First an earthquake and the tension rises."

    READ MORE: Article 50 - What will be negotiated?

    Tusk was referring to a comment attributed to the late filmmaker that a good film "should start with an earthquake and be followed by rising tension".

    Speaking on condition of anonymity, a diplomat from an EU member state said that May "is completely right to call these elections now" as she could benefit from a favourable political context.

    "The good news on the European side is that she will be less weak to make all the concessions she will have to make" in the talks, the diplomat said, adding that such concessions would be harder to make before an election.

    Inside Story: Can Brexit be finished in two years?

    SOURCE: News agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The peace games: Dreaming big for South Sudan's youth

    The peace games: Dreaming big for South Sudan's youth

    A relatively new independence and fresh waves of conflict inspire a South Sudanese refugee to build antiwar video games.