EU leaders say door is open for UK to rejoin

Donald Tusk and Commission Jean-Claude Juncker expressed sadness over the UK’s decision to leave.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and EU leaders at the European Council summit at EU headquarters in Brussels
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and EU leaders at the European Council summit at EU headquarters in Brussels

European leaders have said that the door is open for Britain to return to the European Union.

Speaking on Thursday evening in a joint press conference at the conclusion of Brexit discussions, president of the European Council Donald Tusk, president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar all expressed sadness that the UK was leaving the EU.

At the conclusion of his opening statement, Mr Tusk said: “On a more personal note, what I feel today, frankly speaking, is sadness, because in my heart I will always be a remainer, and I hope that our British friends decide to return one day, our door will always be open.”

Mr Varadkar echoed the same sentiment, reporting “mixed feelings”.

“I have mixed feelings today, I regret the UK is leaving but respect the decision to do so, like an old friend going on a journey without us, and we really hope it works out for them, but I think there will always be a place at the table for them if they ever choose to come back,” he said.

Mr Tusk added that the EU was from the very beginning, flexible and open to solutions.

“Our compromise here without our goodwill and constructive approach any kind of deal would not have been possible at all,” he added.

“We support a deal and this was a clear decision of 27 member states and we are prepared for ratification, now the ball is in the court of the UK.

“I have no idea what will be the result on Saturday, and it’s not for me to comment, but if there is a request for an extension I will consult with other member states to see how they react.”

Mr Juncker added he would like to tell the 48% of UK people who voted to remain in the EU that “they were right”.

It was noted that Mr Varadkar’s appearance at the press conference was an anomaly, and a member state head of government would rarely take part in end-of-meeting press conferences.

During the press conference, Mr Juncker said without Mr Varadkar it would not have been possible to get a deal.

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