Theresa May’s general election call is a twist worthy of an Alfred Hitchcock film, the official running the EU’s Brexit negotiations has suggested.
The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, tweeted: “It was Hitchcock, who directed Brexit: first an earthquake and the tension rises.”
The former Polish premier, who is overseeing plans for talks with the Britain, was referencing a quote attributed to the British filmmaker – known as the master of suspense – that a good film “should start with an earthquake and be followed by rising tension”.
Mr Tusk also said he had a “good phone call with PM @theresa_may on upcoming UK elections” in the wake of her announcement, while his spokesman indicated that the PM’s u-turn would not change the EU’s Brexit negotiation plans.
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A spokesman for Mr Tusk said: “We expect to have the Brexit guidelines adopted by the European Council on 29 April and, following that, the Brexit negotiating directives ready on 22 May”.
The former Polish PM will chair a summit of the other 27 EU leaders next week to agree the Brexit negotiating position.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament’s Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt has said the election is a chance for Britons to show what EU relationship they want.
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On his Facebook page, Mr Verhofstadt wrote: “The UK election is an internal affair but clearly Brexit will be the key element of it.
“This means there will be an opportunity for the UK citizens to express themselves on how they see the future relationship between their country and the EU.
“As the EP Brexit negotiator, I will work with a new government for the best common future possible.”
A European Commission source said the EU has “some hope” that the election “will lead to a strong leader in London that can negotiate with us with strong backing by the electorate”.
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They also said the snap election would not change the Brexit timetable: “This does not change things. We are ready. Early June was always the calendar.”
German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel has said he hopes the planned snap election would bring “clarity and accountability” to Brexit negotiations.
He said: “Accountability and reliability are more important than ever after the Brexit vote.”
Next week’s Article 50 Council meeting will take place in Brussels and will not be attended by the British PM.
Talks with the UK will begin a few weeks later.