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EU divided on Britain's election announcement
Last Updated: 2017-04-21 07:34 | Xinhua
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British Prime Minister Theresa May's abrupt decision to call a snap general election has divided opinion in Europe, particularly at a time when Brexit talks were due to begin.

Brussels appeared to support London's call, with European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas saying "we are in favor".

European Council President Donald Tusk, who is chairing a summit of the other 27 EU leaders on April 29 to agree on the EU's Brexit negotiating position, said he did not think the plans would be affected by the election.

"The UK elections do not change our EU27 plans," said a spokesman for Tusk. "We expect to have the Brexit guidelines adopted by the European Council on April 29 and, following that, the Brexit negotiating directives ready on May 22."

The European Parliament's Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt said the election was a chance for Britons to determine what kind of EU relationship they wanted.

The former Belgian prime minister said, "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 UK citizens to express themselves on how they see the future relationship between their country and the EU," said Verhofstadt.

Some leaders, however, have labeled London's move "risky".

"I hope the voters will deliver a tough message to Brexiteers," said British Socialist MEP David Martin.

With Scottish Nationalists pressing for a second independence referendum, Martin said, "the mad, bad, and dangerous should be a particular target of a save Britain campaign."

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called the decision "a huge political miscalculation" and accused May of "putting the interests of her party ahead of those of the country".

May called a snap general election for June 8 in what was a shock and unexpected announcement on Tuesday. Members of Parliament (MPs) in the British House of Commons gave their backing on Wednesday to 10 Downing Street's decision.

A snap poll published on Thursday by British pollster ICM found that 55 percent of respondents backed May's decision to call an early general election, against 15 percent who opposed it and 30 percent who didn't know.

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