Wednesday 12 December 2018

Report about May 'pleading' was a smear, says Juncker

British Prime Minister Theresa May Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/PA
British Prime Minister Theresa May Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/PA

The European Commission said a newspaper report that Jean-Claude Juncker had disparaged Theresa May's "despondent" demeanour after a dinner last week was a deliberate smear intended to disrupt Brexit negotiations.

It was the second time in six months that a correspondent for Germany's 'Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung' newspaper, who is respected for his access to Juncker's team, has published an account of the EU chief executive's reactions after a dinner meeting with the British prime minister.

But the commission hotly denied leaking the story, which painted an unflattering picture of a British leader worn down by party in-fighting and "pleading" for the EU's help.

"Nothing is true in all of this," Mr Juncker told the BBC, adding that Mrs May had been "in good shape" and "not tired".

Meanwhile, Mrs May dismissed a call for a second referendum as "out of the question", affirming that Britain will be leaving the EU.

"Any suggestion that we in some sense say to the public 'oh you better have a second referendum because we think you got it wrong' - that is out of the question. We will be leaving the European Union," Mrs May said.

The prime minister indicated for the first time that unless a trade deal is agreed by next summer, Britain will leave the EU in March 2019 without a transition period.

She dismissed the EU's timetable of agreeing a trade deal by October next year as being too late.

Irish Independent

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