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How have European leaders reacted to Theresa May's resignation?

How have European leaders reacted to Theresa May's resignation?
Copyright REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo
Copyright REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo
By Pauline Bock with Reuters, AFP
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While they lined up to praise her determination and courage, it was clear Brexit was never far from their minds.


European leaders have been paying tribute to British Prime Minister Theresa May after she announced she will quit on June 7.

While they lined up to praise her determination and courage, it was clear Brexit was never far from their minds.

It is unclear who will succeed May, but if the favourite Boris Johnson prevails that could see a very different tone from London over the UK's divorce from the EU.

Read more: Who is favourite to replace Theresa May as UK prime minister?


France's president Emmanuel Macron said he was hoping for rapid clarification over Brexit and praised May's "'courageous work'' over her Brexit deal, the Elysée Palace said in a statement.

It went on to make clear that "the principles of the EU will continue to apply, with the priority on the smooth functioning of the EU".


The spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she hoped for an orderly exit of the UK from the EU, saying the bloc ''as a whole'' is interested in finding ''a good solution to the Brexit issue''.

The Netherlands

Mark Rutte, the Dutch PM, said the current Brexit agreement with the EU ''remains on the table'' despite May's departure, and said the Netherlands and the UK would remain close.


But some are starting to believe a hard Brexit will be difficult to avoid without May in 10 Downing Street.

''A hard Brexit seems a reality that is almost impossible to avoid," said Isabel Celaa, the acting spokeswoman for the Spanish government, at a press conference on Friday.

The government has contingency plans in place for all eventual outcomes over Britain's planned exit from Europe, she added.


The Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, said he was ''sorry'' to hear of May's resignation. ''We worked closely with her and her team on Brexit and the North'', he wrote, and thanked her for ''agreeing with us to retain and stregthen the Common Travel Area'': ''This will withstand Brexit whatever form it takes'', he added.

European Commission

May's resignation changes ''nothing'' on the EU27's position on the Brexit agreement struck by her with the EU Commission's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier last December, the EU Commission's spokesperson Mina Andreeva said on Friday.

''We will respect the new British prime minister but nothing will change regarding the position of the European Council on Brexit'', she declared.

The EU Commission still assumes the UK will leave the EU on 31 October, Andreeva added.

Michel Barnier expressed on Friday his ''full respect'' for Theresa May and her ''determination as prime minister'' and recalled his time working with her on an ''orderly exit'' of the UK from the EU.

Read more: Will a new British PM make a no-deal Brexit more likely?

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