Von der Leyen says Brexit could be delayed - again

Courageous Margaret Thatcher proved that women can lead

Courageous Margaret Thatcher proved that women can lead

Germany's defence minister, who was nominated to become the next president of the European Commission in July, made the comments at a European Parliament hearing ahead of a vote on her confirmation next week.

In her first public comments about Brexit since securing the nomination, she told British MEPs that she still hoped the United Kingdom would reverse course, but urged Britain to provide clarity for the future: "it is in our interests to have you sort things out".

Making her pitch in Brussels, von der Leyen promised to European lawmakers to focus on promoting the rule of law, competitiveness, digitalization, and fight against climate change, Reuters reports.

In a subsequent hearing on Wednesday, this time with the Greens group, UK MEP Molly Scott Cato said that although not all of von der Leyen's answers had been received "very warmly" during the hearing, she was "delighted to hear" von der Leyen express the hope that Brexit never happens, adding, "because I agree with you about that".

She warned the two men vying to replace Mrs May as leader, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, that the "tone and attitude" of Brexit was vital for setting out future relations between both sides.

She said a divorce deal negotiated by outgoing UK PM Theresa May with European Union leaders was "a good one", in her first public comments on Brexit since being nominated.

The conservative German defense minister may still win support of the full parliament next week, but rejection by the Greens leaves her relying more on nationalists in eastern Europe who like her tough stance on Russian Federation.

Speaking in a mix of English, French and German, Von der Leyen emphasised her European outlook, reminding MEPs she was born in Brussels and attended the city's European school with Dutch, German and French classmates. "What she will do concretely is unclear".

Von der Leyen needs the backing of an absolute majority of 376 votes in the 751-strong chamber to be confirmed. However, this depends on the EU's member states appointing women to be their commissioners - an appeal many ignored in 2014.

Ms von der Leyen also claimed the EU's door remains open to Britain, if politicians in Westminster decide to revoke the bloc's Article 50 exit clause.

Mrs von der Leyen, who is now the German defence minister, is due to take over from Jean-Claude Juncker on 1 November if approved by parliament.

"And at the end of that process we came up with a good result, we didn't want any of this to happen but the result was good and I felt it was correct to extend the procedures, at least from March 29 onwards".

Ursula von der Leyen. "If they need more time, we think it would be a good idea to have an extension because I'm not just thinking about the economic consequences but the relations between our countries would be affected in such a catastrophic way by a no-deal Brexit".

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