EU lack of faith in UK Brexit plans

British Prime Minister Theresa May sits in the audience before delivering a speech about Brexit on the first day of the Conservative Party Conference, 2 Oct 2016 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption UK PM Theresa May says Britain will strike a deal with the EU as an "independent, sovereign" country

Despite polite or firm comments, a shrug of the shoulders is the most accurate way to describe Europe's reaction to Prime Minister Theresa May's announcement that she will trigger formal Brexit talks "by the end of March".

There's a distinct lack of faith in Britain's Brexit promises. David Cameron pledged he would trigger Article 50 immediately should he lose his referendum.

There's also a distinct lack of EU patience.

Europe's leaders have a host of other crises which need their attention such as migration - see Hungary - and eurozone woes.

For now, though, the ball remains firmly in Theresa May's court.

She dictates the start date of Brexit negotiations. She needs to tell EU leaders what type of Brexit she wants.

But after that, Brussels believes it has the upper hand.

The clock starts ticking as soon as the prime minister triggers Article 50 - officially leaving Britain with just two years to get the deal it wants.

If Mrs May does start formal Brexit talks early next year, the biggest EU players, France and Germany, will be distracted by their own elections back home.

But that shouldn't affect negotiations too much at the start.

The focus then will be on untangling the UK from everything EU, rather than fixing in stone future trade relations.

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