Jean-Claude Juncker, the frontrunner to take the top job at the European Commission, has been complaining about the amount of scrutiny he is now under by the British press. He has warned his supporters that they must be ready for “a lot more dirt.”
In private remarks to party colleagues leaked to the Guardian newspaper, Juncker said: “What bothers me is the gathering British press campaign. The tabloid press has occupied my house, photographers are harassing my neighbours, they are asking neighbours about family stories. You had better be ready for a lot more dirt.”
His moaning about reporters is not surprising. The style of reporting he is used to among many Continental journalists is far less vigorous than in Britain.
In 2011, Juncker admitted he “had to lie,” and was indeed caught spreading an untruth to journalists about a crucial meeting of top eurozone finance ministers.
He declared that negotiations on eurozone monetary policy should take place in “secret, dark debates.”
Such a policy of hiding the truth from the news media has not stopped his career in an EU where Italian journalists actually needing to be licensed before they can work for as reporters, and French journalists accept sweet-heart tax deals from the state.
Facing the more muscular techniques of Britain’s news reporters appears to have come as a shock to Juncker. He has called their interest in him “a rather desperate move”.
Certainly British interest in Juncker has surged since David Cameron started a campaign to stop him taking the EU’s top job. Cameron claims the former prime minister of Luxembourg, who wants the EU to turn into a centralised state, is not the man to lead the reforms Britain insists it must have.
Juncker has rejected British opposition, insisting on Wednesday that “I am more confident than ever that I will be the next European Commission president.” Today he is reported to have told his supporters: “I will not be forced to get on my knees before the British.”
Meanwhile the free press of Britain are outside his house, and possibly up his trees, doing their job despite his whining.