Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves the Conservative Party's Headquarters after Britain's election in London on 9 June, 2017.Image copyright Reuters
Image caption British PM Theresa May is now facing calls to resign

The result of the UK election, with the ruling Conservatives unexpectedly losing their overall majority, has sent shockwaves across Europe and beyond.

Politicians across the Continent have been questioning the impact on the Brexit talks.

Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the European Commission, said he wanted discussions to proceed without delay.

“As far as the Commission is concerned we can open negotiations tomorrow morning at half past nine,” he said.

“First we have to agree on the divorce and exit modalities, and then we have to envisage the architecture of our future relations. I do hope that the result of the elections will have no major impact on the negotiations we are desperately waiting for.”

Sweden’s former Prime Minister Carl Bildt, who now chairs the European Council on Foreign Relations think-tank, called the outcome “messy”.

“One mess risks following another. Price to be paid for lack of true leadership,” he tweeted.

‘Another own goal’

Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt, who is president of the Alliance of Liberals & Democrats for Europe in the European Parliament, had caustic words for Mrs May.

“Yet another own goal, after Cameron now May, will make already complex negotiations even more complicated,” he tweeted.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator for Brexit, had a more conciliatory message. “#Brexit negotiations should start when UK is ready; timetable and EU positions are clear. Let’s put our minds together on striking a deal,” he said.

European Council President Donald Tusk alluded to the March 2019 deadline for Brexit talks.

“We don’t know when Brexit talks start. We know when they must end. Do your best to avoid a ‘no deal’ as result of ‘no negotiations’,” he wrote.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Juncker and Mr Barnier say they want to get on with Brexit negotiations

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said it was uncertain when Britain would have a clear Brexit strategy.

“One year after their referendum, we still don’t know the British position in the negotiations on Brexit and it seems difficult to predict when we will, because democracy often requires time,” she observed.

A spokeswoman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her government would not comment on the election result out of “politeness and respect” while the process of forming a new government was ongoing.

Meanwhile Irish Prime Minister-elect Leo Varadkar was positive about the outcome.

“The results of the UK election indicate to me that there is no strong mandate to proceed with a hard Brexit, which represents an opportunity for Ireland,” he said.

He also described the result as an opportunity to re-engage in talks to restore Northern Ireland’s devolved power-sharing administration, which collapsed in January.

Mrs May is expected to form a government with the backing of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists.

World media notes May setback

European newspapers have been focusing on the uncertainty about Mrs May’s future and the anger among Britain’s voters.

In the first official comment by the White House, President Trump said the result was “surprising”, but offered no further insight.

The Washington Post newspaper noted the unpredictable nature of recent British politics.

“The results mark the second time in as many years that the British body politic has defied predictions, scrambled the country’s direction and bucked the will of a prime minister who had gambled by calling a vote when none had been required,” it said.

“But unlike last year’s EU referendum – which delivered a clear if close verdict to get out of the bloc – the will of the voters who cast ballots Thursday was not nearly as easy to decipher.”

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Media captionGeneral Election 2017: Preet Gill becomes first female Sikh MP

Looking east from London, the Chinese press offered largely factual reports, with little comment except to say the result would have a “huge” impact on Brexit discussions.

In Hong Kong, independent outlets said the Tories had made a “grave miscalculation”.

Shi Zhiqin, a professor from Tsinghua University in Beijing, said China might no longer see the need to keep Britain as a strong ally in the EU.

“But I think Britain’s main concern is to keep China as a trade partner after it lost the EU market,” he told the South China Morning Post.

In Russia, state-owned news agency RIA Novosti is claiming the Conservatives will not forgive Theresa May for the result, and predicts a new prime minister.

On the morning of 9 June, state-run rolling news channel Rossiya 24 called it “Theresa May’s devastating defeat.”

A correspondent for Qatar-funded Al Jazeera TV, which ran a special segment on the polls, said the opposition Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn had led a “fierce campaign that the Conservative Party did not expect”.

The results were covered prominently on some Lebanese newspaper websites, with the front page of left-wing Al Akhbar newspaper reading: “Britain: Corbyn brings down the hopes of the Conservatives.”

In India, newspapers are taking an interest in Preet Gill, who has become the UK’s first Sikh woman MP, and Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, the first turban-wearing Sikh winner.

Indian headlines also concluded that the result was a setback for Theresa May, with the Hindustan Times calling it a “stunning blow” for the prime minister.

Congratulations to Corbyn

Labour boosted its number of seats by 29 overnight, exciting Corbyn supporters abroad.

US Senator Bernie Sanders, the former Democratic presidential candidate, told the Washington Post he was thrilled.

“I am delighted to see Labour do so well. All over the world people are rising up against austerity and massive levels of income and wealth inequality.

“People in the UK, the US and elsewhere want governments that represent all the people, not just the 1%. I congratulate Jeremy Corbyn for running a very positive and effective campaign.”

Image copyright Le Monde

Bill Shorten, leader of the Australian Labor Party, made similar observations, telling reporters:

“One of the things which my counterpart, the Labour leader in the United Kingdom, did is he campaigned and his slogan was ‘For the many, not the few.’

“I think Mr Turnbull [Australia’s prime minister] would be well advised to look at the popularity of that message.”

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