Von der Leyen to UK: Thatcher would not break her word on Brexit

A 1975 speech by former U.K. prime minister Margaret Thatcher was quoted by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in her State of the Union address | William Lovelace/Daily Express/Getty Images

Von der Leyen to UK: Thatcher would not break her word on Brexit

The Commission president invoked the former UK prime minister, who said: ‘Britain does not break treaties.’


9/16/20, 11:40 AM CET

Updated 9/16/20, 12:02 PM CET

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen invoked Margaret Thatcher as she slammed the British government’s plans to backtrack on the Brexit withdrawal deal, stressing it was “a matter of law and trust and good faith.”

During her first set-piece State of the European Union speech in Brussels Wednesday, the Commission president invoked the late U.K. prime minister’s words on the importance of adhering to international law.

“Britain does not break treaties. It would be bad for Britain, bad for relations with the rest of the world, and bad for any future treaty on trade,” von der Leyen said, quoting from a Thatcher speech in 1975.

“This was true then and this is true today,” von der Leyen added. “Trust is the foundation of any strong partnership.”

The British government last week presented an Internal Market Bill that aims to override elements of the Withdrawal Agreement, relating to export declarations and state aid rules for companies in Northern Ireland, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed with the EU in October 2019. Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis confirmed that the bill will “break international law in a very specific and limited way.”

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