November 29, 2019 / 1:48 PM / 15 days ago

'I'll miss Juncker's kisses,' Britain's departing EU Commissioner says

FILE PHOTO: European Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King holds a news conference at the EC headquarters in Brussels, Belgium October 30, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - On his final day in the office, Britain’s commissioner to the European Union said he would miss the occasional kiss from his boss Jean-Claude Juncker.

“I don’t regret it, this was always going to happen, this is the logical outworking of the referendum,” European Commissioner Julian King told Reuters amid cardboard boxes and Union Jack cushions waiting to be packed.

“I will miss warm hugs and the occasional kisses from my boss,” King said of Commission President Juncker, known for kissing on the cheek colleagues and world leaders alike, including U.S. President Donald Trump.

With Britain set to leave the bloc on Jan. 31, London has declined to name a representative to the new European Commission, which takes office on Sunday under German conservative Ursula von der Leyen, helping to shape policies and trade deals for more than 500 million Europeans.

“When the new commission meets next week, it will be without a British Commissioner for the first time in a very long time,” King said, saying he was last of 15 commissioners since Britain joined the then European Economic Community in 1973.

Asked if King, a former British ambassador to France, felt anything in common with the last British governor of Hong Kong, he said the frenzy of packing up at the Commission was more akin to the U.S evacuation at the end of the Vietnam War.

“This is much more Saigon than Hong Kong, and not just because there is a helipad on top of the building,” King said as aides worked to clear offices for the new incumbents.

Mulling whether he might not be the last British Commissioner in the glass Berlaymont building, after all, given several extensions to the Brexit departure date and elections in Britain on Dec. 12, King said: “Never say never. We don’t know what the future holds.”

Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Giles Elgood

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