How Europe responded to the Manchester attack

Brexit differences set aside as EU leaders offer solidarity

Image: European Commission

As the Brexit negotiations loom, tensions between the UK and EU have never been higher. But you wouldn’t have known that from the response of European leaders to Monday night’s brutal attack on concert in Manchester.

Flags flew at half-mast at all European Commission buildings yesterday, at the request of President Jean-Claude Juncker, who wrote in a letter to Theresa May:

“It breaks my heart to think that, once again, terrorism has sought to instil fear where there should be joy, to sow division where young people and families should be coming together in celebration. Today we mourn with you. Tomorrow we will work side by side with you to fight back against those who seek to destroy our way of life.”

Donald Tusk will today lead a minute’s silence in the European Council.

Newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron broke with protocol yesterday by walking to the British Embassy in Paris to offer his condolences, accompanied by senior ministers.

He spoke to Theresa May yesterday evening to offer French condolences and cooperation.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed ‘grief and horror’ at the reports from Manchester.

“It is inconceivable that someone would use a happy pop concert to kill so many people or to inflict serious injuries on them. My deep sympathy goes out to all victims and all those affected, as well as the relatives in their mourning and despair. This alleged terrorist attack will only strengthen our determination to work with our British friends against those who plan and execute such inhuman acts. I assure people in the UK: Germany is at your side.”

Of course, when negotiations begin Britain and the EU will still be on opposite sides of the table, and the tensions will not go away. But despite that, EU leaders have in the last day demonstrated the depth of their solidarity with the UK.

See also: It’s a terrible start to Andy Burnham’s term, but Manchester needs a strong mayor more than ever

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