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EU raises pressure on UK, demands clarity ahead of Brexit talks

  • European Parliament asks for clarity on five key issues
  • Opting for a soft Brexit would be "daft"
  • Negotiations due to begin next week

The European Parliament's representative on Brexit has stepped up pressure on the U.K. government to make its position more clear before negotiations kickoff.

Guy Verhofstadt, a European lawmaker, said on Twitter that it's time the U.K. answers five key questions before negotiations begin next week.

The first big question asks whether the government led by Prime Minister Theresa May will leave the single market or will it adopt a softer approach.

Prime Minister May has come under pressure to seek a soft Brexit after losing her parliamentary majority last week. The outcome of the election might force her to seek a cross-party political consensus to agree on how the U.K. will leave the European Union. As a result, she might try to keep some sort of access to the single market.

However, a soft Brexit would be a "daft" option, a political analyst told CNBC on Wednesday.

"It would seem rather daft to leave the European Union but then accept all of its rules just to have market access," Charles Lichfield, associate at Eurasia, told CNBC on Wednesday.

Although the European Union doesn't recognize the terms soft and hard Brexit, the latter is understood to mean that the U.K. leaves the EU by cutting most ties. Whereas a soft Brexit means that the U.K. could keep trading freely with other members of the single market.

The issue is that keeping access to the single market means that the U.K. would have to accept the four EU freedoms, including of movement of people, and thus it would be unable to control the influx of EU citizens – the primary argument used by Brexiters to leave the bloc.

However, some in Europe are hopeful that despite the irrationality of it, the U.K. government will indeed pursue a soft Brexit approach.

"The softer Brexit is, the better it is for United Kingdom and for us because then they can keep the damage down," Elmar Brok, a Brexit Sherpa representing the European Parliament, told CNBC on Wednesday.

Brok reiterated that the EU is ready to negotiate with the U.K. but it cannot do it if the government in London hasn't sorted its politics out following the election result.

Prime Minister May confirmed Tuesday in Paris that she will start negotiations with the EU next Monday.

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