‘To make an end is to make a beginning’: How Ursula von der Leyen quoted Shakespeare and T.S. Eliot to strike a sombre tone at EU press conference announcing Brexit deal
- European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen sounded despondent
- She quoted William Shakespeare, The Beatles and poet TS Eliot in her speech
- Her sombre tone was a markedly different tone from Boris Johnson’s jokes
- PM’s speech poked fun about Brussel’s sprouts and he wore a tie covered in fish
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen hinted at a sombre mood as she adopted the language of Shakespeare announcing a Brexit deal.
Announced the UK and EU had finally reached an agreement at a press conference in Brussels, she turned to the British playwright to express her feelings.
She also quoted lyrics from iconic British band The Beatles and a line written by British-American poet TS Eliot.
Her choice of phrases hinted at the European Union’s despondency at Britain’s split from the Union.
They also came in stark contrast to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s joke-filled speech made from Downing Street on Christmas Eve.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen struck a sombre tone by quoting a number of British cultural icons
These included British-American poet TS Eliot (pictured right) and famous playwright William Shakespeare (pictured left)
The Prime Minister talked of Brussel’s sprouts in a nod to Christmas and wore a tie decorated with fish symbols – an apparent reference to the negotiations on the toughly fought British fishing rights.
But in her remarks, the president of the European commission made a number of more sombre references.
Quoting a Beatles lyric, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said: ‘It was a long and winding road but we have got a good deal to show for it.’
She struck a subdued tone when she used a line from Romeo and Juliet to express her mood, saying ‘parting is such sweet sorrow’.
‘At the end of a successful negotiations journey, I normally feel joy,’ she said.
‘But today I only feel quiet satisfaction and – frankly speaking – relief.
‘I know this is a difficult day for some.
‘To our friends in the UK, I want to say: parting is such sweet sorrow.
Her choice of phrases hinted at the European Union’s despondency at Britain’s split from the Union and came in stark contrast to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s joke-filled speech made from Downing Street on Christmas Eve
In an official press conference to the nation, Boris Johnson also wore a tie covered in fish symbols in another gag
‘But to use a line from TS Eliot: what we call the beginning is often the end, and to make an end is to make a beginning.
‘So to all the Europeans, I say: It is time to leave Brexit behind, our future is made in Europe.’
Ms von der Leyen also announced at the press conference in Brussels that the terms were ‘balanced’ but that the bloc had negotiated from a ‘position of strength’ because No Deal would have been worse for Britain.
The summary of the agreed deal was published by Number 10 at 4.30pm on Christmas Eve, hours before the Prime Minister issued his upbeat ‘Brexmas’ message.
Boris Johnson took to Twitter waving a copy of the Brexit deal before the camera, promising it was a ‘feast’ for Britain
The deal is set to be debated by MPs on Wednesday. It is likely to pass through the Commons, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer saying his party would back the deal, instead of risking a No Deal Brexit.
In a playful note, which was markedly juxtaposed to the von der Leyen’s speech, Boris said: ‘I think we were told you cannot have your cake and eat it,’ he said. ‘I not going to claim this is a cake-ist treaty… but it is I believe what the country needs at this time.’
Defending concessions on fishing rights, he said the country would now have ‘prodigious quantities’ of extra fish – and hinted at subsidies for the industry to boost catches.
He insisted the government could now focus on its ‘No1 priority’ of tackling Covid.
Wishing the country Happy Christmas, he added: ‘Now for the sprouts.’