EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has instructions to seek a deal that preserves the rights of 3 million EU citizens in Britain, recovers money owed by London (possibly $65 billion) and limits any damage to Irish peace from a "hard" EU-UK land border.
The negotiation start date was due to be Monday or Tuesday this coming week but is now likely to be delayed because of the timing of the Queen's speech, itself delayed because of the Conservative Party's quest to reach a political deal domestically with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party.
Guenther Oettinger, the German member of the European Commission, said it was unclear negotiations could be launched on June 19, as planned.
May wouldn't have enough votes in Parliament to support her vision of a hard Brexit, and would find it very difficult to pass laws, one minister said. "We are ready", she said.
German Chancellor Angela "Merkel will notice that, [French President Emmanuel] Macron will notice that".
"When the facts change, I'll change my mind", said Keith Skeoch, chief executive of Scottish insurer and asset manager Standard Life, borrowing a quote from economist John Maynard Keynes. "What the new set-up means for #Brexit we will have to wait and see", Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a tweet.
Paula Surridge, senior lecturer at Bristol University, said it may take time to get to the negotiations in the first place.
The new government also reverses May's view that "no deal is better than a bad deal" and the conciliatory approach prompts the European Union to delay the leaving date.
They want to talk about a divorce settlement first: about the rights of European Union citizens in Britain, and of Britons in Europe; about the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which remains a member of the bloc; and about the most contentious issue in any divorce: the money.
Following last June's Brexit referendum, the process officially started in March when May served formal notice of Britain's intention to leave the EU.
The lack of a single-party majority led some to speculate whether Conservatives could soften their position on Brexit.
Some Tory ministers were privately speculating there might have to be a second British election this year, creating a vacuum just as Brexit negotiations were about to start.
Under the EU Treaty, the United Kingdom will leave the EU in March 2019, two years after formally giving notice of its intention to leave.
"Article 50 has been triggered and we were on our way".
In this ideal scenario for Brussels, the outline divorce is set by the end of this year, agreed in full by late 2018 and ratified by lawmakers by March 2019.
Graham Brady, the chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee and one of the party's key power-brokers, insisted that there was no appetite among MPs for an immediate leadership challenge which could see them plunged into another general election.
"I thought surrealism was a Belgian invention", quipped Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister. I think the debate about withdrawal will only become concrete when the results of the negotiations or parts of the negotiations become visible to the public.
British Prime Minister Theresa May's two closest advisers, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, resigned yesterday after taking responsibility for the election debacle for the Conservative Party which failed to get a simple majority. "It is clear to me that parliament will want to assert its role in a way it did not before".
But EU officials question how any British government could persuade voters to accept a Norway-style package and so would be wary of starting down the path of negotiating it for fear of ending up without a deal that both sides could ratify in 2019.
Preliminary results indicate she will instead face a far tougher balancing act between europhiles and eurosceptics within her own party.