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25th Nov 2018

Theresa May tells EU leaders she’s not sad about leaving the European Union

James Dawson

Her remark came after a number of European leaders bid an emotional farewell to the UK

Theresa May has said she is not sad about the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union after her Brexit deal was agreed by leaders from across the continent on Sunday.

Speaking at a press conference following the 27 EU leaders giving the deal their blessing after 20 months of negotiations, May was asked if she shared European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker’s view that today was a “sad day”.

To which the prime minister replied: “No: but I recognise that others do; I recognise that some European leaders are sad at this moment.”

She added: “We will continue to have that good, close partnership and relationship within Europe, within the European Union and more widely.”

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte and Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite were among those to express their regret at the UK’s decision to exit the EU, as well as to warn that no other deal would be available if MPs vote the agreement down when it comes before parliament.

“I expect a yes vote and this is the deal on the table. I don’t think there’s anything more,” Rutte said. “I don’t want to contemplate a no vote. I think there will be a yes vote, but more in general, I think this is the maximum we can all do, both Theresa May and her government as well as the European Union.”

While German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “My feelings are divided. I feel very sad, but also I feel a sense of relief that we have been able to achieve what we have achieved.”

And French president Emmanuel Macron told reporters: “It’s not a day when we should celebrate, nor a day of mourning. It is the choice of a sovereign people.”

Parliament is expected to vote on the deal in early December, with Labour, Lib Dem, SNP, DUP and many Tory MPs poised to vote against it, throwing the deal into doubt.

However, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told MPs that the EU would not move in its plans. He said: “This is the deal. It’s the best deal possible and the EU will not change its fundamental position when it comes to these issues.”