European leaders will charge EU negotiator Michel Barnier on Friday with negotiating a close trade deal with Britain after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s apparent election win set the stage for an orderly Brexit.
The new president of the European Council Charles Michel said, “We will wait and we will see what will be the official results but there is a strong message we will give tomorrow”.
Michel further said, “We are ready for the next steps and we will see if it’s possible for the British parliament to accept the Withdrawal Agreement and take a decision”.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen agreed, saying that Brussels would congratulate the winner and work quickly to draft a mandate for post-Brexit trade talks.
France’s minister for European affairs, Amelie de Montchalin, said that — if confirmed — the results would comfort President Emmanuel Macron, who has long wanted to see London ratify the Brexit withdrawal agreement and leave the bloc on January 31 as planned.
“If the exit poll results are confirmed it should allow for a clear majority, something that has been missing in the United Kingdom for several years,” she said.
A landslide Conservative win would mark the ultimate failure of opponents of Brexit who plotted to thwart a 2016 referendum vote through legislative combat in parliament and prompted some of the biggest protests in recent British history.
An exit poll showed the Conservatives winning a landslide 368 seats, more than enough for a comfortable majority in the 650-seat parliament and the biggest Conservative national election win since Margaret Thatcher’s 1987 triumph.
On Friday, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that he would stand down as his party faced its worst electoral defeat in 84 years, but he did not set a date for his departure, adding that he would remain in charge during a period of reflection.
“I will not lead the party in any future general election campaign,” Corbyn said in his north London constituency, where he comfortably held on to his seat.
Corbyn described the election results as “very disappointing.
The Scottish National Party, which strongly opposes Brexit, would win 55 of the 59 seats in Scotland, the poll said, setting the scene for it to demand a second independence vote after secession was rejected by 55% to 45% in 2014.
“Boris Johnson has to respect that the Scottish government in Edinburgh already has a mandate for a referendum on Scottish independence in a change of circumstances,” SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said.
(With inputs from agency)