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In their own words: how Ursula von der Leyen and Boris Johnson signed off


The announcement of the Brexit deal finally came mid-afternoon on Christmas Eve – with contrasting words, delivered in their own inimitable styles, from Ursula von der Leyen and Boris Johnson.

In her remarks, the president of the European commission referenced a song by the Beatles, a line from Shakespeare, and a poem by TS Eliot.

Johnson, meanwhile, dusted down familiar phrases from the Brexit campaign, aimed the occasional jibe – and ended with a joke …

On Brexit …

VDL: “To our friends in the UK, I want to say: parting is such sweet sorrow.”

BJ: “We will be your friend, your ally, your supporter, and indeed, never let it be forgotten, your number one market.”

On the deal …

VDL: “It was a long and winding road. But we have got a good deal to show for it. It is fair, it is a balanced deal, and it is the right and responsible thing to do for both sides.”

BJ: “This is a great new free-trade deal, a trading relationship and partnership that, I think, will bring prosperity to both sides of the Channel.”

On the future …

VDL: “The EU and the UK will stand shoulder to shoulder to deliver on our common global goals.”

BJ: “Although we have left the EU, this country will remain culturally, emotionally, historically, strategically, geologically attached to Europe.”

On sovereignty …

VDL: “Of course, this whole debate has always been about sovereignty. But we should cut through the soundbites and ask ourselves what sovereignty actually means in the 21st century …No deal in the world can change reality or gravity in today’s economy and today’s world. We are one of the giants.”

BJ: “For the first time since 1973 we will be an independent coastal state with full control of our waters. We have taken back control of our laws and our destiny. We have taken back every jot and tittle of our regulation in a way that is complete and unfettered.”

On fishing …

VDL: “We have secured five-and-a-half years of predictability for our fishing communities.”

BJ: “I think that was a reasonable transition period and I can assure great fish fanatics in this country that we will as a result of this deal be able to catch and eat quite prodigious quantities of extra fish.”

And finally …

VDL: “To use a line from TS Eliot: what we call the beginning is often the end, and to make an end is to make a beginning.

“So to all the Europeans, I say: it is time to leave Brexit behind, our future is made in Europe.”

BJ : “I think my message to everybody on both sides of the [Brexit] divide, of that argument in 2016, is, I really think it’s now a long time behind us.”

“That’s the good news from Brussels, now for the sprouts.”



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