European Union leaders fear Prime Minister Theresa May’s shock loss of her majority in the snap British election will delay Brexit talks due to start this month and raise the risk of negotiations failing.
It follows a meeting in Brussels on Thursday where both sides agreed that the formal negotiations under the Article 50 process can now commence.
European Union leaders have given chief Brussels negotiator Michel Barnier no authority to so much as talk about future trade with Britain until he clinches outline deals on Brussels’ priority issues, including London’s exit bill.
The EU will keep the door open for Britain to return, but only on worse terms than it now has, European Parliament Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt said Wednesday (14 June).
A Conservative source said there was so far no deal to announce and that a decision on the timing of any announcement would have to wait until an agreement was finalised.
The government meanwhile said the state opening of the parliament – when May s government presents its legislation programme – will take place on June 21, two days later than planned. The DUP is one of the most socially conservative parties in Europe, having sought to maintain some of its strictest limits on abortion and consistently opposed gay marriage.
Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds is leading the DUP delegation to London as party leader Arlene Foster has returned to Northern Ireland, the spokesman said.
The 1998 Good Friday Agreement commits the United Kingdom and Irish Governments to demonstrate “rigorous impartiality” in all their dealings with the different groups in Northern Ireland.
The 1998 peace accords in Northern Ireland set up a power-sharing executive in the British province, but this collapsed in January when Irish republicans Sinn Fein pulled out, citing a breakdown in trust.
“But time is running short and the parties must come together by the 29 June for the return of a strong voice at (Northern Ireland’s seat of government) Stormont”, she added.
The DUP is believed to be more favourable to a “soft Brexit” that would keep Northern Ireland’s border with the Republic of Ireland free-flowing.
Theresa May will meet with Sinn Fein, the UUP, the SDLP and Alliance Party in separate meetings at Downing Street on Thursday afternoon.
The Conservative leader lost her parliamentary majority in last week’s election and is now desperately seeking the backing of the 10 MPs from Northern Ireland’s ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
“The prime minister has totally ignored the will of those people in terms of Brexit”.