Germany’s Minister of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen, who has been nominated to become the next President of the European Commission, told MEPs at a European Parliament hearing on Thursday July 9th that she hopes the UK abandons its plans for Brexit.
"I still hope you remain," she said and warned the British authorities to "sort its side of things on Brexit", the BBC quoted from her speech. The European Parliament hearing, where von der Leyen was speaking came ahead of a vote on her nomination next week.
Von der Leyen was put forward as a nominee to become the next European Commission President by EU leaders last week and is the first woman to run for the position.
In her pitch, she vowed to make the EU more ambitious on climate change and pressed for more gender balance within the bloc.
In an article on the hearing, the BBC reported that von der Leyen tackled what the outlet called the ‘thorny issue’ of Brexit and told British parliamentarians to take responsibility for sorting out the UK's departure from the European Union.
She even made direct comments on the withdrawal agreement British Prime Minister Theresa May negotiated with the EU and said that the divorce deal was "a good one". She went on to extend a warning to the two final candidates in the Conservative party leadership race, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt.
The one who ends up winning the contest, will succeed May as party leader and ultimately become next prime minister of the UK. Von der Leyen warned the two men that the "tone and attitude" of Brexit was vital for setting out future relations between both sides.
"Though I still hope you remain, it is in our interests to have you sort things out. We have an agreement, which hasn't been signed on both sides, and we have the backstop," she said, referring to the provision in the deal designed to solve the issue of the Irish border in case a no-deal Brexit should take place.
"I think it's a good deal, but it is your responsibility and your noble task to sort things out," von der Leyen added.
Von der Leyen is due to take over from Jean-Claude Juncker on November 1st if her nomination gets approved by the EU parliament.