‘Thanks, goodbye, and good riddance!’ EU’s parting message to UK gets lost in translation

The comic mix-up took place at the last ever meeting of EU ambassadors

Jon Stone
Brussels
Tuesday 04 February 2020 14:12 GMT
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British flag lowered and taken away in Brussels

The European Union’s final message to the UK ahead of Brexit was “thank you, goodbye, and good riddance”, because of a comic mix-up at a meeting of EU diplomats.

The Financial Times reports that that Irena Andrassy, Croatia’s permanent representative in Brussels, made the comments while chairing the final meeting of EU ambassadors ahead of Britain’s exit.

In her parting comments to conclude the meeting, she wished Sir Tim Barrow, her UK counterpart “good riddance” – mistakenly assuming the phrase meant “good luck”.

The mix-up was said to be taken in good humour by the British delegation.

“The Brits saw the funny side and understood how it was meant,” one official in the room told the newspaper.

“But history will show that these were the last words from the EU to the UK’s ambassador before Brexit.”

The ambassadors’ meeting took place on Wednesday ahead of the UK’s departure. Ms Andrassy was chairing because Croatia holds the EU’s rotating presidency.

English is highly likely to remain the main language of business in the bloc once though Britain has left, despite the departure of over 65 million English speakers.

As well as still being an official language in Ireland, English is the most widely spoken language in the EU, with large numbers of people learning it as a foreign language.

Its dominance was cemented with the EU’s recent enlargement towards the east, where the second biggest competitor, French, has little foothold in comparison to France’s romance-language neighbours.

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