European Union leaders have welcomed Boris Johnson’s election triumph and called for a quick Brexit vote in the British Parliament, even as the Czech prime minister warned it was “bad news for Europe”.
“It is obviously a giant success for Boris Johnson. He is a charismatic leader,” Prime Minister Andrej Babis said in reaction to the victory of Johnson’s Conservative Party, which swept the opposition aside across much of the UK on his promise to get Brexit done.
“He won and now they will leave, unfortunately. That is bad news for Europe,” he said as he arrived for a second day of an EU summit in Brussels.
The Europeans had widely expressed hope for a convincing victory in the British vote to achieve clarity in a crisis that has rocked Brussels since the British referendum to leave the bloc in June 2016.
Johnson, whose Conservative Party stormed back to power with a clear majority, has promised that Britain will leave the EU on January 31.
German conservative legislator Norbert Roettgen said the EU has to “accept their choice”.
It’s no secret that personally I wanted the UK to #remain in the #EU. But the British people have decided we have to accept their choice: With Johnson’s victory #Brexit has become inevitable. Our goal now has to be to keep relations with the UK as close as possible. #UKElection
— Norbert Röttgen (@n_roettgen) December 13, 2019
“It’s no secret that personally I wanted the UK to remain in the EU,” wrote Roettgen, a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and chair of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee.
“But the British people have decided and we have to accept their choice: With Johnson’s victory, Brexit has become inevitable,” he posted.
‘We are ready’
Charles Michel, who chairs the EU summits, also congratulated Johnson but did not dwell on the result, instead calling on Britain’s parliament to hold a swift parliament vote to approve the agreement with the EU that sets the terms of Britain’s exit.
Michel said the EU was ready to negotiate a free-trade agreement with Britain but called on London to work in good faith.
“We expect, as soon as possible, a the vote by the British Parliament … It’s important to have clarity, as soon as possible,” Michel told reporters as he arrived for a second day of an EU leaders summit.
“We are ready,” he said of trade talks.
The way to Brexit
The EU leaders have a Brexit text ready to adopt on Friday at the end of their two-day summit, which was dominated on Thursday by climate talks.
According to the latest draft, seen by the AFP news agency, the 27 other EU leaders will call for “as close as possible a future relationship with the UK” while warning that it “will have to be based on a balance of rights and obligations and ensure a level playing field”.
They will also ask the European Commission to submit “a draft comprehensive mandate for a future relationship with the UK immediately after its withdrawal”.
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier will direct trade negotiations, which the leaders will follow closely “and provide further guidance as necessary, fully consistent with the EU’s best interest,” the conclusions will add.
Johnson has until July 1, 2020, to ask for a trade talk extension.
If he refuses to extend the negotiation period, a no-deal Brexit will loom at the end of 2020, with Britain in danger of an abrupt cut in trade ties with Europe, endangering its economy.