James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
European Commission vice president pens 'love letter' to UK
26 December 2019, 11:25
The European Commission's vice president said the UK has inflicted "unnecessary damage" on itself with Brexit but that the EU would welcome the country back at any time.
Frans Timmermans has written a 'love letter' to the UK, saying that the nation's long-held scepticism of the bloc had "kept all of us in better shape"
Mr Timmermans, a former Dutch foreign minister, said his love for the UK was fostered while studying in a British international school in Rome but he now feels like a spurned "old lover" over the split.
Lamented the UK's imminent departure, he told of his fears that "more will follow" after the UK formally exits on January 31.
The message, published in The Guardian, he said that the clock is running down to the end of the transition period in which Britain and the EU will try to broker a future relationship, including a trade deal.
It comes after Boris Johnson ruled out any extension beyond December 31 2020, which many EU figures warned was made an impossibly tight timetable.
Mr Timmerman said: "You have decided to leave. It breaks my heart, but I respect that decision. You were in two minds about it, like you have always been in two minds about the EU. I wish you had stuck to that attitude, it served you well and it kept all of us in better shape."
"Was it necessary to force the issue? Not at all. But you did. And the sad thing is, I see it is hurting you. Because the two minds will still be there, even after you have left.
"In the process so much unnecessary damage has been done to you, and all of us. And I fear more will follow.
"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."