BRITISH politics has been turned upside-down by the outcome of Theresa May’s ill-fated election. But on Brexit, Mrs May’s stated reason for holding a vote, little has changed for Brussels and the 27 other governments of the European Union. The EU’s priority is to conduct the talks in as orderly a fashion as possible, and not to allow any deal to weaken its own legal order (hence the constant warnings against British “cherry-picking”). As British politics has tumbled through its various stages of turbulence, the European side has steadily locked down its stance, assembling negotiating teams, agreeing on common positions and issuing position papers. Senior EU officials were comfortable with Mrs May’s snap election because they thought a larger Conservative majority would make for a more stable negotiating partner in what are clearly going to be difficult talks.
So there are no champagne corks popping in Brussels today. Instead, officials have been left drumming their fingers and waiting for the chaos in Britain to resolve itself. This morning Michel Barnier, the French politician who will lead the Brexit talks on behalf of the EU, tweeted: “Brexit negotiations should start when UK is ready; timetable and EU positions are clear….Continue reading