World

EU's top diplomat: Britain will lose more from Brexit than bloc

BEIJING Britain will lose more than the European Union (EU) from its decision to leave the bloc, the EU's top diplomat said yesterday, and talks with London were expected to be difficult.

Prime Minister Theresa May formally began Britain's divorce from the EU last month, declaring there was no turning back, ushering in a tortuous exit process that will test the bloc's cohesion and pitch her country into the unknown.

Britain now has two years to negotiate the terms of the divorce before it comes into effect in late March 2019.

The EU's foreign policy chief, Ms Federica Mogherini, said during a visit to Beijing the negotiations would be difficult.

"They will have to dismantle their belonging to a community. We will lose an important member state," she told students at the elite Tsinghua University.

"Let me tell you that to me all member states are important, equally, because one can be contributing more on some policies than others. But I think our British friends will lose more than what we lose," she said.

Brexit negotiations will start as planned in June, after Britons vote in a snap general election, the EU said on Wednesday. Britain's parliament has endorsed Mrs May's call for a vote on June 8.

"It's clear in our treaties that it is two years, only two years, from when the negotiations start, that was March this year. This cannot be delayed. I do not expect that it will be faster than that," Ms Mogherini said. - REUTERS

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