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Johnson’s win: EU demands UK stance on Brexit

By News Desk

The European Union hopes for a quick British parliament vote on Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc and clarity on London’s plans following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s triumph in elections, the head of the European Council said on Friday.

Charles Michel, who chairs EU summits, congratulated Johnson and also 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 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.

This came minutes after the European body reluctantly welcomed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s election triumph as a chance to put three years of Brexit frustration behind them, but the Czech premier spoke for many in the bloc when he said Brexit was “bad news for Europe”.

Leaders said they now wanted a quick divorce and to move on to talks on a free-trade accord with the EU, even if they are likely to be difficult.

“I’m relieved for my country,” Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said at an EU summit.

A so-called orderly Brexit with a transition period is crucial for investors and businesses who fear a “no-deal” departure would disrupt trade and financial markets.

“We expect a vote on the withdrawal agreement as soon as possible,” European Council President Charles Michel told reporters, referring to the deal that Johnson and the EU struck setting the terms of Britain’s exit on Jan. 31, 2020.

“It’s important to have clarity as soon as possible,” Michel added.

Leaders from Italy to the Netherlands echoed that sentiment, with Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel saying: “Boris won the election by telling everyone he wants to deliver, so now it’s time to deliver.”

Senior German conservative lawmaker Norbert Roettgen, an ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, said on Twitter that now the size of Johnson’s victory was clear “Brexit has become inevitable”.

EU leaders, like many British voters, have tired of stop-start Brexit negotiations and the three extensions to Britain’s departure date they have granted, although all deeply lamented the British decision to leave.

“It is obviously a giant success for Boris Johnson. He is a charismatic leader,” Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said.

“He won and now they will leave, unfortunately. That is bad news for Europe,” he said.

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