The president of the European Commission this morning (June 24) issued a strong statement pressing for the swift exit of the United Kingdom from the EU.
“We now expect the United Kingdom government to give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible, however painful that process may be,” said the statement, signed by Jean-Claude Juncker, who runs the administrative arm of the EU, and other heads at the organization. ”Any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty.”
Juncker called a press conference this morning to reiterate his position and, the packed room of journalists were told he would take just “two and a half questions.” The first question went to Le Monde, whose reporter asked about the German and French response to the referendum (“I expect France and Germany to take a very clear position … so this situation of uncertainty cannot last too long,” he said)
The second went to the BBC’s Katya Adler. She asked her question without a microphone, and after Adler making a joke around about losing his hearing as he gets older, the atmosphere turned tense.
Adler asked Juncker the question on everybody’s mind: “Despite strong words from you, and [European Union president] Tusk and other EU leaders today, the fact that there was a Brexit vote, which has echoes across the EU—is this the beginning of the end of the European Union?”
After a beat, Juncker said, “No!” Then he gathered his papers and turned to stride off the stage. The room giggled, then broke out into loud clapping.