After claiming that UK “deserters” would “not be welcomed” by the EU, Jean-Claude Juncker has been humiliated.
FORMER According to a rediscovered interview, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker stated that UK “deserters” would not be “welcomed with open arms.”
After 47 years as a member state, the United Kingdom withdrew from the European Union last year.
In the 2016 referendum, a majority of British citizens opted to leave the EU, and Brexit became a reality in January 2020. Since then, the government has inked a slew of trade agreements with non-EU countries, including a historic free trade agreement with Australia.
Despite leaving the EU at the start of last year, the United Kingdom entered a Transition Period that lasted until the end of the year.
During this time, trade, travel, and freedom remained substantially unchanged.
“I am confident the deserters would not be welcomed with open arms,” then-European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said ahead of the 2016 referendum.
In May 2016, just over a month before the British voters famously decided to leave the EU, the lawmaker spoke to the French newspaper Le Monde.
“If the British say No – which I hope they don’t – then life in the EU will not be the same as it is now,” he remarked.
“The United Kingdom will have to accept the status of a third country, which will not be treated lightly.
“If the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, individuals will have to deal with the repercussions, just as they will.
“It’s not a threat, but our ties will be different than they are now.”
Withdrawal was a long and sometimes painful process.
Theresa May’s team negotiated to leave the customs union and the single market three times, but each time Parliament failed to ratify it.
Just over two weeks before the planned March 2019 leaving, Parliament agreed to ask Mrs May to seek the EU to postpone the exit until June, and then later in October.
Mrs May resigned in July 2019 after failing to get her deal approved, and Boris Johnson took her place.
Mr Johnson’s initial plan was similarly rejected by Parliament, and a deal was finally ratified in January 2020, following an emergency general election that the Conservatives won handily.
The accord went into force on January 31 of that year, following EU approval, and the transition period began.
Britain’s and the EU’s senior Brexit negotiators, David Frost and Michel Barnier, respectively, negotiated a settlement until the eleventh hour.
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