Britain’s membership of the EU came to an awkward end when a diplomat wished the country ‘good riddance’ in an unfortunate slip of the tongue.
Croatia’s permanent representative in Brussels, Irena Andrassy, thought the phrase meant ‘good luck’ when she bid the UK farewell at its final meeting of diplomats last week.
As a result, her parting words to British counterpart Tim Barrow were: ‘Thank you, goodbye, and good riddance’.
The mix-up was said to be taken in good humour by the British delegation.
An official said: ‘The Brits saw the funny side and understood how it was meant.
‘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, two days before the UK’s historic departure from the bloc.
The country is the first to quit the institution after almost half a century as a member, in what is seen as a huge blow to the European Union.
Despite some feelings running high towards the UK over Brexit, EU officials insisted the goodbye was not a dig in disguise, the Financial Times Reports.
Tweeting after the incident, Andrassy said: ‘One more thing we share with our British friends – a good sense of humour…’
The two sides are attempting to remain amicable as seek to hammer out a new trade deal within a year.
Negotiations are expected to kick off this month with Boris Johnson hoping to secure a Canada-style free trade agreement – although critics are doubtful this can be achieved within the tight time frame.
Brexit has marked the end of Britain’s involvement in key institutions in Brussels including the European Parliament and the European Council.
However, English is highly likely to remain the main language of business in the bloc.