Brexit backlash: EU figure said ‘good riddance’ to UK amid trade talks row

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Brexit trade talks have displayed the major differences that now exist between the UK and EU member states as the search for a deal continues. Brussels’ demands for a level playing field on regulation and continued access to UK fishing grounds have been met with anger from Brexiteers in the UK. Meanwhile, leaders such as French President Emmanuel Macron have tried to pressure the UK into concessions on fishing rights. As both sides prepared for Brexit trade talks earlier this year, one figure in the EU expressed their anger at the UK for leaving the bloc.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had just taken the UK out of the EU when Croatia’s EU ambassador hit out.

Irena Andrassy told British counterpart Sir Tim Barrow: “Thank you, goodbye, and good riddance.”

One official who was in the room told the Financial Times: “The Brits saw the funny side and understood how it was meant. But history will show that these were the last words from the EU to the UK’s ambassador before Brexit.”

A Croatian spokesman in Brussels said the remark came during “a humorous exchange between friends and in a closed session; it was warm and friendly and with the best intentions”.

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He added that there was no tension between the two ambassadors and that they were on very good terms.

Ahead of the UK’s departure in January this year, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen paid tribute to the UK’s EU contributions.

She said: “I want to pay tribute to all the British citizens in the EU, who over half a century contributed to the EU and made it stronger.”

She added that trade negotiations will be “fair” but each side will fight for their interests.

Trade talks have continued this week despite fears there may not be enough time to get a deal ratified even if it is agreed.

Mr Johnson spoke to Ms von der Leyen on Thursday, warning the talks are in a “serious situation” and a no deal scenario was “very likely” unless the EU position changed “substantially”.

Ms von der Leyen said bridging “big differences”, particularly on fishing rights, would be “very challenging”.

However, she also welcomed “substantial progress on many issues”.

The European Parliament has attempted to pile on the pressure as leading MEPs say a deal needs to be agreed by Sunday.

Leading German MEP Manfred Weber, who leads the centre-right European People’s Party group in the European Parliament, explained: “I have proposed to EU Parliament leadership this morning that we should only approve a Brexit agreement if we get it by this Sunday.

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“After that we cannot reasonably scrutinise the deal before the end of the year. The agreement is too important to rush through Parliament.

“We owe it to the people and businesses in our constituencies who will be heavily affected by Brexit, to scrutinise the deal appropriately. After Sunday we don’t believe this would still be possible.”

Romanian MEP Dacian Ciolo, who is leader of the liberal Renew Europe group, said: “We give until Sunday to Boris Johnson to make a decision.

“The uncertainty hanging over citizens and businesses as a result of UK choices becomes intolerable.

“Michel Barnier and his team has our full support as we head to the Brexit moment of truth.”

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