EU: Johnson's exit will not change much; damage has already been done

BRUSSELS -- Since his days of inciting anti-European Union sentiment through exaggerated newspaper articles, to his populist campaign leading Britain from the bloc and reneging upon the post-Brexit Trade Deal he signed, the outgoing U.

EU: Johnson's exit will not change much; damage has already been done

BRUSSELS -- Since his days of inciting anti-European Union sentiment through exaggerated newspaper articles, to his populist campaign leading Britain from the bloc and reneging upon the post-Brexit Trade Deal he signed, the outgoing U.K. Prime minister Boris Johnson has been the bane for Brussels for so many years.

Johnson's impact on breaking down the bonds between Britain, EU and Europe was so significant that Johnson had to announce his resignation Thursday. There was little celebration in EU circles. Instead, people accepted the inevitable and accepted that things would never be the same.

Bruno Le Maire, the French finance minister, said that he would not miss him. This was a clear sign of disdain for Trump's defeat in the 2020 U.S. elections. Experts and politicians said that although trans-Atlantic relations have improved rapidly since President Joe Biden's arrival, they are unlikely to improve with a new British leader.

David McAllister, a leading EU legislator who deals with the United Kingdom, stated that "Even with an entirely new prime minister, I believe there won't likely be any changes in the British government’s position" on the major Brexit issues that are causing divisions.

Guy Verhofstadt was the EU's top parliamentarian throughout the entire Brexit divorce proceedings and said Johnson's influence was so strong that there was little to no chance of another Conservative prime minister taking a fundamentally different path.

Verhofstadt wrote an opinion piece for The Guardian, "No one can believe that Johnson's departure form Downing Street will solve any of the underlying issues in the U.K-EU relationship." "The legacy of the damage done by the former prime minister through the project he facilitated to attain power is still there."

Since 1973, the United Kingdom has been a weak member of the EU. Johnson, who joined the Brussels press corps over three decades ago, often enthralled his readers with stories that had two basic elements. They put the EU in the worst possible light and had no connection to reality.

He was a Conservative politician and he supported the U.K. leaving the EU. Johnson was known for his lighthearted and humorous style, which he used to promote the benefits of leaving the EU. Sometimes, he ignored the facts. Johnson was a key figure in the victory of the Brexit campaign in the 2016 referendum.

But his disdain for the post-Brexit agreement with the 27-nation bloc was deeper than when he began to unilaterally revise parts of it. This agreement established a special system for Northern Ireland which is part of Britain so that trade with the Republic of Ireland (an EU member) could continue without the need to establish a physical border.

"I met him face-to-face. "I was there face to face with him. Line for line, and comma after comma. And he doesn’t want it to respect it," Michel Barnier, EU chief Brexit negotiator, recalled Friday, still puzzled by Johnson's tactics.

According to Michael Emerson, Center for European Policy Studies, "The reputational harm has been enormous to a country or society that has long been proudly proud of its deep culture 'My word IS my bond' without even an international contract."

The House of Commons is still considering the bill to unilaterally end the North Irish trade agreement. There is some hope that London will reconsider its position.

They have this law in Parliament so they are taking steps in that direction. They have not crossed the line," Jan Lipavsky said, Czechia's foreign minister. He is also the EU presidency's chief and is better known in English as the Czech Republic.

However, a quick look at the possible contenders for the presidency doesn't offer much hope for fundamental change because they include many Conservatives who have spent years immersed in Johnson's confrontational Brexit strategies.

Rem Korteweg, of the Clingendael Institute, The Hague, Netherlands, stated that "if you look at potential successors, there are no one who will fundamentally change with the Brexit line." "The Conservative Party has an overwhelmingly Brexit core, which you will need to convince to be prime minister."

Although the first year of Brexit has not yielded the promised bounty, any attempt to return the U.K. back to the EU is possible with the Labour Party, the main opposition, focusing on making the most of the Brexit situation.

The EU wouldn't even consider welcoming the country back with open arms.

Korteweg stated that Ukraine's inflation-stricken economic problems and migration problems are "their plates full". He said, "They don't wait for talks with Britain, who will be looking anyway for exceptions and exemptions."

Barnier, who has been leading the EU's Brexit negotiations for many years, doesn’t see it happening.

Barnier stated on Sud Radio that "it is not an issue at the moment." "Very honestly, we need a mentality where the British government is committed to the treaties that it has negotiated."

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Samuel Petrequin reported in Prague. This report was contributed by Jill Lawless from London and Frank Jordans from Berlin.

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Follow all of AP's coverage of Prime Minister Boris Johnson at https://apnews.com/hub/boris-johnson

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