European Commission president says politicians ‘goofed it up’ in 2016 and the next generation will ‘have to fix it.’ But both Tories and Labour shun the idea.
The U.K. is on a clear “direction of travel” toward rejoining the EU, the president of the European Commission said — as she urged young people to reverse Britain’s departure.
Ursula von der Leyen said she had told her children that it was up to the next generation to “fix” the mistake of Brexit.
Asked during an interview at the POLITICO 28 awards in Brussels on Tuesday night whether Britain could ever rejoin the EU, von der Leyen said: “I must say, I keep telling my children: ‘You have to fix it. We goofed it up, you have to fix it.’ So I think here too, the direction of travel — my personal opinion — is clear.”
Von der Leyen described the Windsor Agreement on Northern Ireland, struck between Brussels and London earlier this year, as “a new beginning for old friends.”
But her comments on young people sparked a swift reaction in London, with a spokesperson for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak disagreeing that Brexit needs to be “fixed.”
The spokesperson said Britain has “a prime minister who championed Brexit before it was in his career interests to do so because he believes in it passionately.”
The notion that young people are driving the U.K. towards the EU was also rejected, and the spokesperson insisted Sunak is “focused on delivering the benefits of Brexit.”
Polling consistently shows a majority of voters in the U.K. would back rejoining the EU if asked to do so at a referendum. The latest survey by Deltapoll published in late November shows rejoining on 48 percent and staying out on 36 percent — a 12-point lead.
But broaching the subject is considered toxic in Westminster and no major political party with a chance of power is suggesting rejoining the bloc.
The opposition Labour Party, which has a commanding lead according to POLITICO’s Poll of Polls and is currently on course to form a majority government after the next election, says it wants a closer relationship with Europe, but has ruled out rejoining the single market or reintroducing free movement of people.
Responding to von der Leyen’s comments, a spokesperson for Labour Leader Keir Starmer said Wednesday lunchtime: “We’re not rejoining the single market or customs union. We’re not returning to freedom of movement.
“Of course we want a good working relationship with the European Union, we want to improve some of the issues there are on subjects like trade, but no, we’re not rejoining in any form.”
Source : Politico