President-in-waiting at European commission says she hopes UK ‘abandons Brexit’

Ursula von der Leyen. (Photo by Omer Messinger/Getty Images)

Ursula von der Leyen. (Photo by Omer Messinger/Getty Images) - Credit: Getty Images

Ursula von der Leyen, the European commission president-in-waiting, says she wants the UK to abandon its plans for Brexit.

Speaking to MEPs Von Der Leyen said she hoped that Brexit does not happen, but that the British must take responsibility for "sorting out" the situation.

She said that the EU's offer to Theresa May and the UK government was a "good deal", and warned the two candidates vying to be prime minister over their "tone and attitude" towards Brexit.

She said: "Though I still hope you remain, it is in our interests to have you sort things out. We have an agreement - which hasn't been signed on both sides - and we have the backstop."

She added: "I think it's a good deal but it is your responsibility and your noble task to sort things out."

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In a swipe at Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, she reminded them: "Brexit is not the end of something, Brexit is the beginning of future relations and it's of absolute importance that we have good cooperation."

And turning to an Irish MEP she said: "I think the backstop is of utmost importance and we absolutely know how crucial this non-existent border is for you. "Having the backstop in the Brexit deal is precious, important and has to be defended."

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Von Der Leyen will take over from Jean-Claude Juncker in November.

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