David Jones, currently a Conservative MP for Clwyd West, served as Minister of State for Exiting the European Union from July 2016 to June 2017 under Theresa May’s premiership. Among the many obligatory visits to Brussels and Luxembourg, Mr Jones also attended the EU General Affairs Councils, where occasional informal meetings are held in various European cities.
It was at one of these summits in Bratislava, Slovakia, that Mr Jones discovered just how concerned some figures within the EU were at the prospect of the UK leaving.
Upon his arrival at the meeting, Mr Jones claimed in his article for Red Cell that an EU Commissioner pleaded with his British counterpart that the UK must stay in the bloc.
The Commissioner said, according to Mr Jones: “How long, Mr Jones, does the UK intend to remain shackled to this corpse?”
After his Bratislava visit, he was told a very senior Scandinavian former minister had made an urgent request to meet him.
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Mr Jones claimed the minister pleaded with him for the UK to ditch Brexit.
The minister said: “I have come to see you for reassurance. Please tell me that the UK will not really be leaving the EU.”
Mr Jones replied: “We are certainly leaving. The country has just voted to do so.”
The minister continued: “But surely you are not serious. The referendum was advisory, no more.
“You are not bound by it. You must see that for the UK to leave would be disastrous for Europe.”
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Despite Mr Jones’ certainty that UK was to leave the EU, the minister persisted, even suggesting Britain have a second referendum.
The minster said: “But you can still stop it. Have a second referendum. The people must understand what damage this would do to the whole of Europe.
“The smaller member states need the UK as a counterbalance to Germany. You simply can’t leave.”
Mr Jones replied: “I’m sorry. That’s not the way things work in this country. We made it clear that we would abide by the referendum.
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“We are leaving, and there is no going back.”
In his article, the Conservative MP describes the minister as “palpably saddened” as he left the meeting, highlighting just how concerned many in the bloc have been about the consequences of Brexit.
After Boris Johnson’s huge election victory in the general election, it appears the Government finally has the mandate required to fulfil the result of the 2016 referendum.
Last Friday, the House of Commons backed legislation that promises to take the UK out of the EU on January 31.
MPs also overwhelmingly approved the timetable for the bill, meaning it is likely to pass Commons by the end of the first full week of January.