EU chief opens door for UK to rejoin – hails ‘important beginning’
Ursula von der Leyen, the EU’s top-ranking official, has admitted she wants Britain to rejoin the bloc as she hinted at a complete reversal of Brexit.
The President of the European Commission was pressed on the subject during an onstage interview with Jamil Anderlini, editor-in-chief of Politico.
Asked specifically whether Britain would ever return to the fold, the former German defence minister chose her words carefully.
However, she said: “First of all, thank God. With the Windsor agreement, we had a new beginning for old friends. Very important.
“And then I must say, I keep telling my children, you have to fix it.
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“We goofed it up. You have to fix it.
“So I think here, too, the direction of travel, my personal opinion is clear.”
Ms von der Leyen has long been something of a talismanic figure for those who wish to see Britain make an unlikely return to the EU.
In 2020, days before Britain severed ties on January 31, she addressed the London School of Economics alongside former EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, making clear that she would welcome a reversal.
She was surrounded by supporters outside the university, some of whom spoke to Express.co.uk.
One, James Sheeran, who had travelled down from Newcastle with wife Janet specially for the occasion, said: “Brexit will never be a fait accompli to be perfectly honest with you because we will never be able to cut ourselves off from Europe.
“She made it clear that if we want to do business with Europe there has to be a level playing field.
“That will mean we will need to keep very close alignment with our statutes.”
Ms von der Leyen is not the first high-profile figure in Brussels to tout the idea of the UK rejoining the EU in recent days.
On Saturday, Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian Prime Minister and a vehement critic of Brexit, responded to remarks by the man recently appointed British Foreign Secretary.
Posting on X, formerly Twitter, he said: “David Cameron says the obvious.
“The UK & EU should work together to defend democracy & freedom against Putin’s imperialism.
“Why not rejoin ?! The best reply to the autocrats & their pundits in the west who want to divide us & destroy liberal democracy.”