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Brussels greets Boris Johnson victory by rejecting Brexit plans

EU restates opposition as Ursula von der Leyen warns of ‘challenging times ahead’

Boris Johnson’s election as Conservative leader has been greeted in Brussels with a rejection of the incoming British prime minister’s Brexit demands and an ominous warning by the newly appointed European commission president about the “challenging times ahead”.

Ursula von der Leyen, who will replace Jean-Claude Juncker on 1 November, said both sides had a “duty” to deliver a deal as she offered her congratulations to Johnson on his victory.

“There are many difficult issues we will tackle together,” she said. “It is important to build up a strong working relationship because we have a duty to deliver something which is good for the people in Europe and the United Kingdom.”

Juncker later published a letter to Johnson in which he wrote of his hopes of working together in “in the best possible way”.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, tweeted that he wanted to work “constructively” with Johnson on the basis that both sides were committed to facilitating “the ratification of the withdrawal agreement”, the deal struck by Theresa May that the new Conservative leader has repeatedly described as dead.

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