‘Direction of Travel’ is United Kingdom Rejoining European Union, Says Commission President

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 08: EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks durin
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It is up to young people to rectify the mistake of Brexit, European President Ursula von der Leyen told a formal dinner for Brussels figures on Tuesday night, making her belief the United Kingdom is on the path to return to European clear.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was guest of honour at a Politico awards dinner in Brussels on Tuesday night where she was feted as the most powerful European President ever. Discussing present world events with the event’s host — including claiming the dream of joining the European Union is what keeps Ukrainian soldiers fighting — von der Leyen made clear her view that letting Britain leave the European Union was a mistake that should be reversed.

Asked about “a small pirate island off the coast of France”, von der Leyen responded obliquely that: “you know my position. First of all, thank God, with the Windsor agreement, we had a new beginning for old friends. Very important. And then 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.”

The United Kingdom was the first country to leave the European Union after its citizens voted in the 2016 referendum to end their association with the continental power bloc, a major blow not just to progressives in Britain whose sense of self is tied to pan-Europeanism, but also to Brussels leaders who see the project as a one-way journey and a matter of inescapable destiny.

Accordingly, von der Leyen is not the first Eurocrat to have spoken of reversing Britain’s decision: fellow Eurocrat Frans Timmermans, a now-former executive vice-president of the European Commission who was recently humbled in his attempted return to domestic politics in the Netherlands, wrote a remarkable letter to the British people in 2019 in which he cast himself as a jilted “old lover” wanting the UK back. He wrote: “I know you now. And I love you.

“For who you are and what you gave me. I’m like an old lover. I know your strengths and weaknesses… We’re not going away and you will always be welcome to come back.”

While the UK Conservative Party ultimately delivered a version of Brexit, it was very much doing so against the wishes of many of its own parliamentarians and to this day the party still has a strong Europhile wing. The party is — present polling suggests — likely to be out of power next year and possibly replaced by the left-wing Labour party, which has an even warmer approach to Europe.

Europe’s fixation on undoing Brexit, perhaps now more than ever now a Eurosceptic conservative looks set to form a government in the Netherlands, one of the EU’s founding members, may also go hand-in-hand with the Union’s very clear ideas about what it considers its own territory. While the EU continues to push east and into the Balkans, this is seen perhaps most clearly with its attitude towards Ukraine.

Ukraine joining the Union is treated with a sense of inevitability, with von der Leyen herself remarking in the recent past that “Enlargement is a vital policy for the European Union”, and that Ukraine “belongs to our European family”. “History is on the move”, she had previously said of Union territorial expansion, proclaiming “the future of Ukraine is in our Union”.



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