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EU fears Brexit delay after May loses majority

BRUSSELS: European Union (EU) leaders fear British Prime Minister Theresa May's shock loss of her majority in the British election will delay Brexit talks due to start this month and so raise the risk of negotiations failing.

"We do not know when Brexit talks start. We know when they must end," tweeted Mr Donald Tusk, the EU summit chair overseeing the negotiations the EU had planned to start on June 19.

His reference to the March 2019 deadline, when Britain will be out of the EU with or without an agreed deal to avoid legal limbo for people and businesses, reflected mounting concern that British chaos could further disrupt all of Europe.

"Do your best to avoid a 'no deal' as result of 'no negotiations'," Mr Tusk said.

Mr Guenther Oettinger, the German member of the EU executive, warned that a weak British leadership was a problem for the EU.

"We need a government that can act," he told the Deutschlandfunk radio station.

"With a weak negotiating partner, there is the danger that the negotiations will turn out badly."

Mr Oettinger's boss, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, told a German paper:

"It is up to the British to make the next move... We have been ready to negotiate for months."- REUTERS

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