What an about face! EU ambassador in screeching U-turn as he admits ‘benefits’ of Brexit

Northern Ireland Protocol will not be renegotiated says Barnier

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Since 2016 the EU has repeatedly said the UK would be negatively impacted by its decision to leave the bloc. But speaking at a fringe event at the Labour Party conference in Brighton, João Vale de Almeida adopted a softer tone.

The EU’s man in London reiterated the bloc regretted the UK’s decision to leave before saying the post-Brexit relationship could be just as good for businesses and Britons as when a part of the bloc.

“The European Union may regret the British decision but we fully respect it,” he said.

“We definitely want to move on.

“Moving on for us means establishing a strong and close relationship with the United Kingdom.

“It will not be the same as before and people need to realise that but it can be equally productive, fruitful, constructive and positive for the benefits of our citizens and business.

“This is our commitment.”

He was attending the Labour Party conference to build relations with politicians in Sir Keir’s top team and hear the party’s debate on the EU.

“I was in listening mode here,” he said.

Next week he will also be in Manchester to attend the Conservative Party conference.

Speaking at an event titled “Britain and the EU: What kind of relationship do they need?”, Mr Vale de Almeida also spoke about frictions over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

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Britain has accused the EU of being “purist” in its implementation of the deal, causing damage to the UK’s internal market.

Westminster is demanding a renegotiation of the Brexit mechanism to ease problems in the long term.

Yesterday, Mr Vale de Almeida rejected accusations of the EU being too “rules” focus on its implementation.

He said he wanted both sides to work together to find a compromise to move on from the row.

He said: “We are ready to be flexible, our approach has not been ‘rules, rules, rules’, it has been ‘rules-minus, rules-minus’.

“In the sense we are adapting to the particular situation of Northern Ireland and we have shown enormous flexibility.

“We hope the conditions will be created very soon for us to move on, finding the right solutions for implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“We believe this is an important moment and an important aspect of our overall relationship and the sooner we find a common group, the better it will be for other aspects of the relationship.”

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