The fall of Boris Johnson has been received in the EU with some satisfaction… but only behind closed doors.
However, no one in Brussels believes that things can actually change, as the British Conservative Party maintains the same position on Brexit. But it is also true that relations between Brussels and London were at their lowest point, as Johnson has been permanently threatening to end the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“There are two aspects: one is his personality which is inconsistent, he lies, he doesn’t honor agreements. It’s very difficult for everybody to deal with him, including his own cabinet minister, that’s not something that only happens to Brussels. On the other hand, he also had a very combative approach to Brexit because he understood that keeping the Conservative party coalition and the voters together requires a hard line on Brexit. And the way he interpreted that was to be as aggressive as possible with the EU,” says Garvan Walshe, an analyst at the Wilfried Martens Centre.
Among the possible candidates to replace Johnson, several could opt for a more hands-on approach. But not all. “Home Secretary Priti Patel is probably the person most interested in confrontation and would therefore be the worst candidate from an EU point of view. The best candidate is more open. Quite a few of them could bring a return to normal relations,” Walshe argues.
The European Commission avoided assessing Johnson’s departure, after being asked by Euronews. And for the Czech Republic, which currently holds the presidency of the EU Council, there is hope.
“As far as the relationship between the UK and the EU is concerned, I hope that it will have a strong influence on the current situation, and I hope that the UK will abide by international law,” believes Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský.
Johson’s relations with Brussels have always been stormy, even during his time as a correspondent for the Daily Telegraph. He was one of the great promoters of the pro-Brexit campaign and since he arrived in Downing Street his permanent questioning of the agreements only made things worse.