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Brexit: von der Leyen (EU Commission), “as of 1 February, the UK will become a third country. We want partnership between good neighbours”

(Strasbourg) With Brexit, “the UK will become a third country” with which we want to build a good “partnership” for the sake of both sides. Ursula von der Leyen took the floor at the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg today. She focused on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, saying: “with the clear victory” of Boris Johnson, who now has an absolute majority in Westminster, “our assumption is” that the “Withdrawal Agreement will be ratified” by the House of Commons. As of 1 February 2020, then, the UK will no longer be part of the EU, and in the transition period until December 2020, we will have to define the “future partnership” between the two sides of the Channel. Michel Barnier will again lead the negotiations for the EU, who, according to Von der Leyen, “has earned everyone’s trust through the years”. We need to agree a future partnership, to avoid a cliff-edge situation that would “impact more the UK than us, as the European Union will continue benefiting from its single market”. Our future partnership will not be “the end of something” but “the beginning of new relations” between “good neighbours”. Criticised in her speech by the UK’s pro-Brexit MEPs, von der Leyen stated: “thanks God, without you, we” will continue building “our future partnership with the UK”.

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