European leaders have praised the election victory of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, embracing the decisive result for a man who campaigned for Brexit and against what they claim.
The counterintuitive holiday resulted from Europe’s resignation to escape Britain’s split from the European Union, and from the E.U. frustrations with more than three years of relations with British leaders who were barely in control of their own Parliament.
Now, the UK is expected to leave on January 31 and enter an 11-month limbo state, in which little will change in the daily life of the U.K. and EU citizens. The UK will still be subject to the E.U. regulates and will be able to trade with Europe as if they were a full member.
But leaders will have to make a furious dash to reach a trade deal and work out their post-Brexit relationship before Dec. 31, 2020, when the transition period is set to end. Failure could mean the same jump-off-the-cliff breakup that both sides have said they dearly want to avoid.
As European and British leaders prepare to embark on those tricky negotiations, the European side hopes the size of Johnson’s win will enable him to deliver on the deals he makes in the bargaining sessions — and protect him from being taken hostage by Brexit hard-liners who favor only the most severe breakup.
“To be honest, many of my counterparts were pleased at the fact that this was a clear outcome, that we’re not again facing a situation with a hung Parliament where you can’t make headway in either direction,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who rarely speaks so openly about the internal politics of other countries.
But she acknowledged the tension in the talks that are expected to start soon after Britain’s formal exit from the bloc. Germany and others want to preserve the strongest ties possible with Britain — but the more Johnson chooses to diverge from E.U. rules, they say, the tougher the restrictions they will impose on British businesses.
“We will have a competitor on our doorstep now, a country that is no longer a member of the single market,” Merkel said. “Great Britain will have to carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages” of diverging from E.U. regulations.
French President Emmanuel Macron also delivered a stark warning to London: “My message to the British is that the more loyal we are to each other, the more our relationship will be close. But don’t think you can have an extensive trading relationship, a maximal access to the European market, with substantial differences on sanitary, climate, economic and social regulations. This is not true,” he said.
Boris Johnson campaigned for Brexit and against the E.U. Now Europe’s leaders are delighted by his victory.
BRUSSELS -European leaders on Friday were toasting British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s thumping election victory, embracing the decisive result for a man who campaigned for Brexit and against much of what they stand for. The counterintuitive celebration stemmed from Europe’s resignation that Britain’s split from the European Union was inevitable, and from E.U.
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