The UK will “always be welcome” to rejoin the EU after Brexit, a European Commission leader said today.
In a “love letter” to Britain published in The Guardian, executive vice-president Frans Timmermans insisted he “respects” the 2016 referendum result but denounced the “unnecessary damage” that has been done since.
Mr Timmermans is deputy to Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission.
Telling the UK “I’m like an old lover”, he wrote: “Truth be told, I felt deeply hurt when you decided to leave. Three years later I am just sad that a member of our family wants to sever our ties.
“But at the same time I find comfort in the thought that family ties can never really be severed.
“We’re not going away and you will always be welcome to come back.”
It comes as the UK prepares to leave the EU by the January 31 deadline.
Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill sailed through the Commons at its second reading last week, with the prime minister making the most of his large majority following the general election earlier this month.
The bill is set to pass its remaining legal stages in the Commons and Lords before it receives Royal Assent and becomes law.
Once the UK leaves, it will start the clock running down to the end of a transition period during which London and Brussels will try to broker a future relationship including a trade deal.
Mr Johnson has ruled out extending the period beyond December 31 next year, which some key EU figures have warned is an impossibly tight timetable.
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