Britain has been unnecessarily damaged by Brexit and “more will follow”, the vice-president of the European commission has written in a “love letter” to the British people in which he promises a warm welcome back should attitudes change.
Frans Timmermans, who is Ursula von der Leyen’s deputy in her role as European commission president, writes that British scepticism of the EU had been an asset to the bloc as he expresses his own feelings of rejection ahead of the country’s impending departure on 31 January, likening himself to a jilted “old lover’s
Writing in the Guardian, Timmermans, a former Dutch foreign minister who was also deputy to Jean-Claude Juncker, says he first grew to love the UK and the character of its people through his time at a British school in Rome, Saint George’s English School.
Timmermans talks of his grief at the unpicking of the relationship built since the UK’s accession to the European economic community in 1973. He suggests that David Cameron’s decision to hold the 2016 referendum was unnecessary.
Timmermans concludes, however, that the UK “will always be welcome to come back”.
Negotiations on the future relationship will start in earnest in March once the UK has formally withdrawn and negotiating positions on both sides of the channel have been confirmed.
Boris Johnson has said he will not extend the transition period, during which the UK will remain in the customs union and single market but not the EU’s decision-making institutions, beyond December 2020.
Read more via The Guardian