Boris Johnson’s massive win in the UK general election means that the Brexit process can now be accelerated, which is something ‘everyone has been waiting for,’ Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said on Thursday evening.
Rutte, speaking to reporters on the fringes of an EU leaders’ summit in Brussels, was reacting to the BBC exit poll giving the Conservatives a majority in parliament.
Asked if he was relieved or saddened by the result, Rutte said: ‘Neither. It was more taking note of the fact that this can help with developments.
‘I think that everyone will consider this good news, because at a certain point you need progress. Otherwise it [Brexit] will continue to keep us busy for years to come,’ Rutte said.
Johnson’s victory means Britain will now leave the EU on January 31, and then start work on trade talks with the EU. European leaders will discuss how to proceed with that trade treaty later on Friday.
On Thursday, Dutch foreign minister Stef Blok told journalists that the Dutch will be most affected by Europe. ‘Johnson’s desire to complete a trade negotiation with the EU is highly ambitious,’ he said.
Asked about his role in the negotiations, Blok said: ‘I will always promote the interests of the Dutch consumer and of Dutch companies.’
Experts say the impact of Brexit on the Netherlands will be larger than in many other countries because of the close trading links between the two. The International Monetary Fund said last July that should Britain pull out of the EU without any fixed trade deal in place, Dutch national income would fall by 0.7%.
While Johnson has agreed a deal with the EU, it still has to be voted on in the British parliament, although that is expected to be a formality.
At the end of 2018, there were 88,390 people with British nationality living in the Netherlands, of whom 49,358 were first generation immigrants, the CBS said. Most of the second generation British nationals had just one British parent.
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