3rd Feb 2023

EU leaders urge for stability in the UK 'as soon as possible'

  • Liz Truss (l) only two weeks ago was at the Prague summit with EU leaders, establishing the European Political Community (EPC) (Photo: Council of the European Union)
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EU leaders urged for stability in the UK "as soon as possible", following Liz Truss' resignation on Thursday (20) — after just 45 days in the prime minister's seat.

Truss will enter history as the shorter-serving premier. It is yet unclear who will lead the next Conservative government, with some calling for elections.

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"It is not a complete surprise to us," Slovenia's Robert Golob summed up when arriving to the summit. "It was somehow predictable for the last two weeks," he said.

Several EU leaders said the fragile geopolitical situation after Russia's invasion of Ukraine makes the UK's political stability more urgent than ever.

"Hopefully it doesn't transfer to instability to Europe," Golob said, adding that "every kind of instability at this particulate of time is not good news for the world."

"I think stability is very important," Irish prime minister Michael Martin said, adding he had sympathised with Truss, "I think it's been a very difficult time for the British prime minister".

He added that he would like to "see a successor selected as quickly as possible", citing "fairly significant geopolitical issues facing Europe".

French president Emmanuel Macron also said it was important for Britain to find stability as soon as possible. Truss — during the campaign for Tory leadership — had marked Macron as not clearly "friend or foe".

"We want, above all else, stability," Macron told reporters. "On a personal level, I am always sad to see a colleague go," he added.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte was less sentimental.

"Liz Truss yes, yes. I was very enthusiastic about her. [We had a] very nice call. I'm looking forward to her successor. The fifth I think," Rutte, the second longest-serving prime minister among the EU-27, quipped.

The UK's political stability is not on the agenda of the EU summit, but it will be on leaders' minds. Just a few years ago the British prime minister would have been in Brussels too at the summit.

Some see the UK's turmoil as a result of Brexit. The UK and the EU are still locked in negotiations after London, under Truss' leadership, planned to upend existing agreements on post-Brexit trade in Northern Ireland.

Referring to Brexit, Irish PM Martin said "I think … many issues had not been thought through in respect to what was a political decision with huge economic and market implications".

"No one should or can be happy about the political and economic turmoil in the UK," former EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier tweeted on Thursday, adding that "Brexit makes everything more difficult".

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