EUs Tusk calls for mutual respect amid election spat with UK

Nick Clegg PM treating EU leaders like subordinates

At a press conference in Brussels, Mr Tusk said: "These negotiations are hard enough as they are". If emotions get out of hand, they'll become impossible.

"In order to succeed we need discretion, moderation, mutual respect and a maximum of goodwill".

An EU source told AFP this was "obviously a message applying to both sides" after days of damaging rows before the two-year Brexit talks have even formally got underway.

Over the weekend, German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine reported that May and Juncker clashed during their meeting at Downing Street last week.

Theresa May was awaiting the results of her first nationwide electoral test as Britain's prime minister on Thursday, as the Brexit debate grew increasingly bitter just weeks away from a crucial general election.

Earlier Mr Tusk had appealed for calm ahead of Brexit negotiations. But it is telling that it is Tusk, the president of the body that represents the interests of the member states, who has delivered this message.

Meanwhile, Martin Selmayr, chief of staff to Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker - thought to be the man behind a number of anti-Brexit briefings - hit back at May's speech, immediately saying Brexit "will never become a success as it is a sad and sorry event".

He was speaking a day after British Prime Minister Theresa May accused some European Union officials of actions that "have been deliberately timed to affect the result of the general election" on June 8.

"Britain's negotiating position in Europe has been misrepresented in the continental press, the European Commission's negotiating stance has hardened, threats against Britain have been issued by European politicians and officials", May said. "We know there is an election taking place in the United Kingdom", Margaritis Schinas said on Wednesday.

Sir Michael, asked if it would be easier if Mr Tusk and others did not comment on what is going on, told BBC Radio 4's Today: "Well, it'd certainly be easier if commission officials kept their views to themselves and not further complicate what is already going to be a tough negotiation".

May later on dismissed the claims as "Brussels gossip".

"When we have a British government immediately after the United Kingdom election, we'll be very busy in engaging constructively in Article 50 negotiation for which we are ready", he added.

The two sides have clashed over the costs of the exit, prompting May to accuse the European Union of toughening its stance in statements "deliberately timed to affect the result of the general election" next month. "We are too busy now to engage in these comments on who said this or that".

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