Brexit: UK will ‘soon regret’ leaving EU argues JunckerOn September 13, 2017 by Kenna
The UK will “soon regret” leaving the EU, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said.
Mr Juncker told the European Parliament that Brexit would be a “sad, tragic” moment for the EU but that the 27-member union would “move on”.
“Brexit is not the future of Europe. It is not the be all and end all.”
But, speaking in the same debate, ex-UKIP leader Nigel Farage said the EU had “learnt nothing” from Brexit and was ploughing “full steam ahead”.
In his state of the union speech in Strasbourg, Mr Juncker proposed an EU summit on the day after Brexit, 30 March 2019, in the Romanian city of Sibiu to map out the future of the European Union.
He called for closer economic and defence co-operation among member states, including more support for states outside the eurozone to prepare them to join the single currency, and reforms to the single market.
Reflecting on the economic and political challenges that the continent had faced in recent years, he said the “wind is back in Europe’s sails”.
The UK’s departure from the EU, he said, would prove a “very sad, tragic moment in our history”.
He added: “We will always regret this. I think you will regret it as well soon, may I say.”
But he stressed that Brexit “was not everything” and an increasingly confident EU would continue to advance, focusing as he put it on the big strategic challenges rather than “the small things”.
Mr Farage, the best known campaigner in the Parliament for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, attacked what he said were “truly worrying” plans to create a single president of the EU, an EU finance minister and a “strong EU army in a militarised Europe”.
He said what was being proposed was “more Europe in every single direction without the consent of the people”.
He also warned the idea of allowing future candidates to the European Parliament to stand on transnational tickets, rather than representing nation states, was anti-democratic and “reminiscent of regimes of old”.
“You have learnt nothing from Brexit. If you had offered David Cameron concessions, particularly on immigration, I would have to admit that the Brexit vote would never ever have happened,” he said.
Telling MEPs “thank God we are leaving”, Mr Farage said the EU was “deluding itself” if it believed the “populist wave” of protests against the established European political order was over.
Negotiations between the UK and EU are continuing although the latest round of talks, due to begin on Monday, have been put back a week to allow “more time for consultation”.
Speaking on Tuesday, former Brexit minister Lord Bridges said the UK must be “honest” about the “complexity and scale” of leaving the EU as well as the lack of time to reach agreement with the EU.