June 9, 2017 / 6:48 AM / a year ago

French PM Philippe says British election does not question Brexit

PARIS (Reuters) - Brexit talks will be long and complex but the result of the British general election doesn’t call into question Britain’s choice to leave the European Union, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Friday.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe (L) and French Justice Minister Francois Bayrou (R) leave the Elysee Palace after a weekly cabinet meeting in Paris, France, May 31, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

“We always thought these (Brexit) discussions wouldn’t be simple. In fact, they will be long and complex,” Philippe told Europe 1 radio.

“I do not believe, however, that one should read into these results a shift in the position expressed by the British over Brexit,” Philippe added.

British voters dealt Prime Minister Theresa May a punishing blow, denying her the stronger mandate she had sought to conduct Brexit talks and instead weakening her party’s grip on power.

The initial exit poll predicted the Conservatives, traditionally favoured by markets as pro-business and fiscally prudent, would win 314 seats in the 650-member parliament and the opposition Labour Party 266, meaning no clear winner and a “hung parliament”.

Earlier, EU Economic and Financial Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said the result would have an impact on the “spirit” of the Brexit negotiations due to start later this month.

Reporting by Matthias Blamont; editing by Leigh Thomas

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