Brexit: UK should rejoin the EU, Ursula von der Leyen says
and live on Freeview channel 276
Ursula von der Leyen, the EU Commission President, told a Politico event: "I keep telling my children, you have to fix it. We goofed it up." She had been asked if Britain could ever reverse Brexit.
She said: "First of all, thank God, with the Windsor agreement, we had a new beginning for old friends. Very important ... you have to fix it [Brexit]. So I think here, too, the direction of travel, my personal opinion is clear.”
Support for rejoining the bloc has been at a record highs since the 2016 EU referendum, with 63% supporting rejoin while those who want to stay out of the EU is at 37%. This has largely been driven by younger people reaching voting age, and a small minority of Leave voters switching sides.
YouGov announced earlier in the year that 46% of voters want a referendum in the next 10 years, 10 percentage points higher than those that don’t. Small businesses have had issues with extra costs and red tape, while farmers are fighting to stay afloat as government subsidies reduce.
However, research has shown that now Britons are largely apathetic about the EU, and Leave voters think Brexit has gone badly but blame it on politicians instead of leaving the EU.
Responding to von der Leyen's comments, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "It's through our Brexit freedoms that we're considering how to further strengthen our migration system, it is through our Brexit freedoms that we're ensuring patients in the UK get access to medicine faster, there's greater animal welfare.
"We are delivering on Brexit, we have resolved the outstanding issue of the Windsor Framework, the Prime Minister delivered that. We are focused on the benefits and opportunities that Brexit can bring."
During Prime Minister's Questions, Sunak accused Starmer of doing a "secret back-room deal with the EU" over migration. Starmer has previously said if Labour got into power it would not "want to diverge" too much from the EU.
A Labour spokesman said: "We have set out our position very clearly on that. We are not rejoining the single market or customs union, we are not returning to freedom of movement."
Despite Sunak's criticism, there are many decisions he has made so the UK does not diverge from the EU. Sunak has delayed full food checks once again, so European imports are waved through customs. The UK has rejoined the Horizon science funding programme and we continue to use the EU safety mark - in both cases shelving the post-Brexit alternative.
Ralph Blackburn is NationalWorld’s politics editor based in Westminster, where he gets special access to Parliament, MPs and government briefings. If you liked this article you can follow Ralph on X (Twitter) here and sign up to his free weekly newsletter Politics Uncovered, which brings you the latest analysis and gossip from Westminster every Sunday morning.