Statement by the candidate Commission President
I would like to say to Dr von der Leyen
that I am greatly disturbed by her attachment to the political project of a European army and European strategic autonomy. This will inevitably lead to a transatlantic divide and undermine NATO, and can only encourage our enemies.
But let me focus on our most critical issue, as far as the UK is concerned. Dr von der Leyen, we welcome your statement of respect for the decision of the British people to leave the European Union and of the need to work closely with Britain in the future. Goodwill on the part of Brussels has so far been rather missing. But we are disappointed that all you seem to offer is an extension of our withdrawal date: this is hardly ambitious. Instead, may we suggest you use your influence before you take office to urge amendment or reinterpretation of those aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement that are clearly unacceptable to the UK. This wouldn’t take a lot; solutions are there. In Europe, as they say, nothing is possible and everything is possible. Britain will leave the European Union on 31 October. Let’s ensure this is on good terms, without acrimony, to provide the basis for a strong positive relationship in the future, fully respectful of the expressed desire of the British people for control of their own borders and their own laws.
Tuesday 16 July, 2019