The President of the European Commission has spoken out about the future of the European Union without Britain, saying that while he hoped Britain would not go the “nature” of the continental power bloc would not ultimately change.
The reportedly “depressed” Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, who one senior EU official recently said “is less and less positive about the EU and the abilities of the member states in particular” made his views on the future of the European Union potentially without the United Kingdom.
Speaking in an interview with Euronews, the former prime minister of Luxembourg Juncker was responding to a question on “how damaging” Brexit could be to “both the EU, and Britain”. The ardent Europhile predicted Brexit would “both harm the European Union and Britain”.
This pessimistic outlook on Britain’s ability to succeed without European Union membership chimes with remain campaigners in Britain, who have predominantly focussed on fears around the damage that might be caused to the British economy in the case of exit.
Explaining his logic and what he saw as the British contribution to the European Union, Mr. Juncker said: “Without Britain the European Union would no longer be complete and without the British pragmatism, the down-to-earth, the no-nonsense approach the British very often are approving”.
Mr. Juncker made no mention of the most obvious contribution of the United Kingdom to the European Union — some £13 billion a year, after the rebate. Britain is one of the largest financial contributors to the European project.
Despite the loss of Britain’s “pragmatism”, “down to earth… no nonsense approach”, and money, Juncker insisted that after the “harm” done to the European Union it would be business as usual. The Commission President said: “the European Union would not change its nature but there would be a missing element”.
Ultimately President Juncker appealed to “common sense”, which he called a “British virtue”. He said “I hope that ‘Brexit’ will not be the result of this referendum”.
The comments come just a week after Jean-Claude Juncker delivered a warning from St. Petersburg that Britain leaving the European Union would open a period of global uncertainty,a nd his fellow Euro President Donald Tusk said Brexit could destroy “Western political civilisation”.