The European Commission reacted to the choice of Boris Johnson as the newly-elected head of the Conservatives, making him the UK’s newest prime minister, by reiterating its well-worn line that a no-deal Brexit would be the worst possible outcome of the impending divorce between the United Kingdom and the EU.
“He took a long time deciding whether he was for or against Brexit,” said the EU’s First Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, when asked whether his is expects Johnson to alter his opposition to a withdrawal deal that was hammered out by Johnson’s predecessor, outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May, and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker later last year.
“A hard Brexit would be a tragedy” as “we are all going to suffer,” according to Timmermans, who expressed the opinion that he doesn’t think that “(the British) people intentionally voted for a no-deal Brexit” during the 2016 referendum that saw a solid majority of the UK”s voting public opt to quit the EU.
“I think the position of the EU is also clear in that the United Kingdom reached an agreement with the European Union and the European Union will stick with that agreement. We will hear what the new prime minister has to say when he comes to Brussels,” said Timmermans, while repeating that Brussels would not consider re-opening the withdrawal agreement talks.
In a blog post published on Tuesday, Vytenis Andriukaitis, Lithuania’s European Commissioner for Health, also took aim at Johnson and his rival Conservative Party candidate, Jeremy Hunt, saying, “A functioning democracy demands a discussion. Using whatever means to win political battles just does not fit the bill. The Boris Johnson phenomenon in a democracy is an example of this in action where priority is given to the objective alone and not the means of obtaining it.”