Nominee for EU commission chief would back last minute revocation of Article 50
PUBLISHED: 14:34 11 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:02 11 July 2019
Ursula von der Leyen, who is tipped to be the next EU commission chief, told MEPs that “the door is open” to revoke Article 50 - even at the last minute.
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The nominee to become the next EU commission chief assured the Remainer MEPs in the Greens-European Free Alliance bloc that "the door is open, because we want you in" in the event of revoking Article 50 at the last minute.
The questions came during a hearing where she was quizzed on issues such as climate change targets, the environmental impact of the Mercosur trade deal, as well as Brexit.
MORE: The EU-Mercosur trade deal: Why this is the worst time to leave the EU
The potential future president has already expressed her affinity with the Remain cause, saying she wants the UK to abandon its plans for Brexit.
MORE: President-in-waiting at European commission says she hopes UK 'abandons Brexit'
But Scottish MEP Alyn Smith pressed her for more detail on the matter, saying that she had already promised to support giving the UK more time. He asked: "How much time would we have?
"We know that we can unilaterally revoke Article 50 legally, but could you [as prospective president] confirm for us that we could revoke Article 50 up to the very last minute, without political consequences, and that the door is open for us to do so?"
"Yes, the door is open, because we want you in," said von der Leyen. "And the political consequences are way harder when it comes the other way round. So as we've said, we want you in, we are prepared for whatever happens, but if we are to choose, we want you in."
She added that as she has a child studying in the UK, "I know first-hand how the debates are - so respect, and good luck".
Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, who is critical of the EU's system of appointments of top jobs, took a more combative tone. She said that Brexit is "a crisis for the whole of Europe", not just the UK. Pointing out the efforts made to bring southern and eastern European countries into the EU as part of the founding vision of the union, she expressed disappointment that the UK "is not being given that same energy to keep us".
She added that the UK now has the largest pro-European movement on the continent, and asked what the EU was doing to match the UK's efforts to fight Brexit at home.
Von der Leyen replied in German, but Parliament Magazine has translated part of her response as: "If the UK needs more time we should give it to them."
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The magazine also reported her saying: In case we're going to have a Brexit, I'm convinced it is crucial how the tone is and the attitude with which Brexit happens."
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