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EU's Tusk warns Britain Brexit time tight, risk of no deal

Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, leaves after meeting Britain's Prime Minister, Theresa May inside 10 Downing Street, in central London, Britain April 6, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Council President Donald Tusk, who will oversee EU negotiations on Britain’s withdrawal, warned on Friday that London faces a firm deadline to complete talks and that delays in starting them raise the risk of failing to reach a deal.

“We don’t know when Brexit talks start. We know when they must end,” Tusk tweeted after the loss of her majority in a snap election put in doubt whether British Prime Minister Theresa May will be able to start Brexit negotiations as planned on June 19.

“Do your best to avoid a ‘no deal’ as result of ‘no negotiations’.”

In March, May bound Britain to leaving the EU, with or without a deal to settle legal uncertainties for people and businesses, on March 30, 2019. EU officials say time is very tight to negotiate such a divorce and have been concerned at May’s threats to prefer “no deal” to a “bad deal”. Such an outcome would be damaging to both sides, EU officials say.

Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; @macdonaldrtr; editing by Philip Blenkinsop