"UK election irrelevant for Brexit"

In an opinion piece for Britain’s Guardian newspaper the European Parliament's chief Brexit negotiator has urged Britons not to believe that Theresa May's snap election will have any impact on the negotiations that will lead to the UK exiting the EU. Mr Verhofstadt, the leader of the liberal democrat group in the EP and a former Belgian PM, rejects the idea that Ms May called the UK general election in order to be able to get a better deal from Brussels. He rubbishes this idea and speaks of a Conservative coup.

The former Belgian leader notes that as a Belgian he has high regard for surrealism and feels that the British scenario for the Brexit talks resembles the unworldly art of Magritte, the famous Belgian surrealist painter. Mr Verhofstadt goes on to rubbish the idea that Ms May called the election to get a better deal in the Brexit talks. That she can claim this is the result of the fact that many Britons and the British media poorly understand how article 50 that allows members states to quit the EU works. The lib dem leader in the EP prefers to believe that the poll is more closely linked to machinations within the British Conservative party just like many EU leaders see the referendum as a Conservative party catfight that got out of hand.

Mr Verhofstadt thinks Ms May is giving in to opportunism, that the Conservatives are attempting to hold on to power for a further five years now Labour is in the doldrums and the impact of Brexit is not yet fully felt. He thinks that the UK election is irrelevant for Brexit negotiators in Brussels as the UK government represents Britain come what may and the size of the PM's majority does not impact on this.

Mr Verhofstadt notes that many people in the EU regret the decision of the British people, but that there is no going back now that Article 50 has been invoked. In her accompanying letter Ms May indicated that the UK would also leave the customs union and the Single Market so cherished by Margaret Thatcher. As the UK government shows no interest in EU co-operation in the fields of justice and home affairs Britons will enjoy no greater rights than citizens of the Indian subcontinent if they care to visit the rump EU.

The Euro MP denies that the European Banking Authority and the European Medicines Authority will be able to stay in London. This is no punishment but a direct consequence of invoking Article 50. Guy Verhofstadt hopes that the UK election will lead to an honest debate on "the bitter realities of Brexit". Only then will the "surrealist" fog that shrouds British ministers be able to lift and can a serious discussion take place on future relations that he hopes will be close.

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