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EU chief Tusk calls for calm as Brexit tensions soar

EU chief Tusk calls for calm as Brexit tensions soar

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker drew laughs at the start of the conference by announcing that he would speak in French because "slowly but surely English is losing importance in Europe". In his light-hearted speech in Florence, he said his choice of French was timed for remarks ahead of Sunday's French presidential run-off vote and "I would like them to understand what I'm saying". It is not a small thing but we must and will negotiate in all "fairness" with our British friends.

Donald Tusk's warning followed comments by British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday that some European politicians and officials were seeking to affect the outcome of Britain's election on June 8.

The President of the EU's ruling Council has intervened to calm Brexit tensions 24 hours after Theresa May launched a vicious attack on "Brussels bureaucrats" on the steps of No 10.

"To succeed we need today discretion, moderation, mutual respect and a maximum of goodwill".

"And at that point - despite the success, despite the growth - our British friends chose to leave the European Union, which is a tragedy".

Later, the European Commission's chief Brexit negotiator, Frenchman Michel Barnier, joked he would address a conference in English.

Mrs May has made it clear she does not want leaks about the Brexit negotiations but many doubt that such secrecy is achievable when Brexit issues affect the interests of 27 other European Union countries.

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Threats have been made against the United Kingdom by European politicians and officials", she said, adding that "all this was deliberately programmed to influence the outcome of the legislative elections scheduled for 8 June.

Earlier the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said it had no opinion on May's accusation about meddling.

"Clearly what was happening was the commission was trying to bully the British people - and the British people will not be bullied, and the Government will not allow them to be bullied", Mr Davis said.

While local issues are usually the main influence in such polls, May's decision last month to call a snap general election ensured her own record and Brexit would be on voters' minds Thursday.

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said earlier on Friday that lawmakers, who have a veto over the final agreement, wouldn't back a deal if there are no guarantees for EU citizens living or having lived in the United Kingdom.

On Wednesday, following a meeting with the Queen over the dissolution of parliament, May said: "In the last few days we have seen just how tough these talks are likely to be".

German magazine Der Spiegel reported that an angry Chancellor Angela Merkel was "sour" with Mr Juncker over the leak, which she felt had "heated up" the situation in an unhelpful way.


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