Brussels leaders deliver a bitter parting shot at Brexit Britain as they say ‘size matters’ and claim only the EU can solve global challenges while the UK’s MEPs leave the European Parliament for the final time
- Ursula von der Leyen, Charles Michel and David Sassoli penned a joint article to mark the moment of Brexit
- They praised the UK for its ‘creativity’ and spoke of their ‘fondness’ for Britain but claimed ‘size matters’
- They argued that Britain will no longer wield the influence it had as a member of the bloc on the world stage
- Meanwhile, Britain’s MEPs are today leaving European Parliament for the final time ahead of Brexit deadline
The three most senior figures in the European Union have delivered a parting shot at Brexit Britain as they said ‘size matters’ and claimed only the bloc can address the world’s problems.
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Council Charles Michel and president of the European Parliament David Sassoli penned a joint article to mark Brexit.
They spoke of their ‘fondness for the United Kingdom’ and praised Britons for their ‘creativity, ingenuity, culture, and traditions’.
But they could not resist putting the boot in as the UK prepares to leave the EU at 11pm tonight.
The trio suggested that on its own Britain will not be able to influence global affairs in the way that it has been able to as a member of the bloc.
Their comments came as Britain’s MEPs prepared to leave the European Parliament for the final time.
The Brexit Party’s MEPs marked the occasion this morning with a show of strength as they marched out of the building carrying a ‘Brexodus Express’ banner as Ann Widdecombe said: ‘The MEPs leaving here today, our duty is done, our harvest is home and now we’re off.’
Britain’s MEPs will leave the European Parliament for the final time today. Brexit Party MEPs took part in a march out of the building this morning carrying a banner reading ‘Brexodus Express’
Ann Widdecombe led the march for the Brexit Party after Nigel Farage left Brussels for the final time as an MEP on Wednesday after the European Parliament voted for the Brexit deal
Charles Michel (left), Ursula von der Leyen (centre) and David Sassoli (right), pictured in Paris yesterday, have said ‘size matters’ in a parting shot at Brexit Britain
Britain’s split from Brussels has prompted a great deal of soul searching in the EU about its status and its position on the world stage.
Critics of the EU like Nigel Farage have predicted that Brexit will signal the beginning of the end of the political union.
But writing in The Times, Ms von der Leyen, Mr Michel and Mr Sassoli said Brexit will ‘mark a new dawn for Europe’ as well as the UK.
They claimed that the years since the result of the 2016 EU referendum had ‘brought us closer together as nations, as institutions and as people’.
‘They have reminded us all that the EU is more than a market or economic power but stands for values that we all share and defend,’ the trio wrote.
‘This is why the member states of the EU will continue to join forces and build a common future.
‘In an age of great power competition and turbulent geopolitics, size matters.
‘No country alone can hold back the tide of climate change, find the solutions to the digital future or have a strong voice in the ever-louder cacophony of the world. But together, the EU can.’
The comments are likely to spark anger among Brexiteers and reinforce their belief that leaving the EU is the correct course for the UK.
The remarks also risk souring trade talks between Britain and Brussels before formal negotiations on the future partnership agreement have even begun.
When the UK leaves the EU this evening the two sides will enter into a standstill transition period during which they will hammer out the terms of a trade deal.
Brexit Party members of the European Parliament, including Jonathan Bullock (4th R) holding a British flag, depart from the Parliament to return to Great Britain
Brexit Party members made their way to the Brussels Midi train station as they prepared to journey back to the UK for Brexit celebrations tonight
The comments risk souring trade talks between the EU and UK before they even begin. Ms von der Leyen is pictured alongside Boris Johnson in Downing Street on January 8
The transition period will end in December 2020. Boris Johnson is adamant he will not agree to extend the transition but the EU does not believe there is enough time to strike a comprehensive deal by the end of the year.
The trio’s remarks came as Britain’s MEPs walked out of the European Parliament for the final time.
Ms Widdecombe said: ‘I have a mixture of feeling very, very jubilant and full of celebration but also profound relief because there was a time when I wondered if this day was ever going to come.
‘Indeed it was at that point that I joined the Brexit Party to try and help to make it come.’
Ms Widdecombe led the Brexit Party’s march out of the party after leader Mr Farage left Brussels for the last time as an MEP on Wednesday evening following the final vote on the Withdrawal Agreement.
She said she would be joining the rest of the party in Parliament Square for the stroke of 11pm on Friday evening.
She added: “And that’s it. That is the moment when Brexit has been Brexited.”