Boris Johnson needs a re-education on the European Union (EU), Jean-Claude Juncker claims.
Near simultaneously to Mr. Juncker’s outburst, one of the most senior figures in the EU tweeted that Mr. Johnson as Prime Minister would be a “horror scenario,” claiming the possibility of him, Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen as leaders of G7 countries “shows why it’s worth fighting populism.”
Mr. Juncker’s chief of staff, Martin Selmayr, sent the provocative tweet about MP Boris Johnson, Front Nationale leader Marine Le Pen and Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump, while his boss is in Japan at the G7 summit.
The aide to the president of the European Commission also stated that populism “is worth fighting.” The EU is currently embroiled in disputes with populist, hugely popular governments in Poland and Hungary who have solid mandates from their respective peoples.
— Martin Selmayr (@MartinSelmayr) May 26, 2016
Senior figures in the campaign for the Leave vote, in the referendum on whether Britain should leave the EU, hit back at the inflammatory remark. Vote Leave media spokesman Robert Oxley said of the intervention, “Unelected bureaucrat working for unelected bureaucrat speaks.”
The Guardian reported that there was speculation Mr. Selmayr’s tweet was coordinated, as it came “immediately after” Mr. Juncker criticised the ex-Mayor of London.
Speaking in Japan at the G7 summit the EU president claimed Mr. Johnson is painting a false picture of the EU for the British public and suggested he return to Brussels for a “reality” check.
Responding to Mr. Johnson’s comparison of the EU’s aims to those of Adolf Hitler, Mr. Juncker said, “I’m reading in [the] papers that Boris Johnson spent part of his life in Brussels. It’s time for him to come back to Brussels, in order to check in Brussels if everything he’s telling British people is in line with reality. I don’t think so, so he would be welcome in Brussels at any time.”
Replying to a question asking whether he would be able to work with Mr. Johnson if he entered Downing Street, Mr. Juncker reaffirmed his desire for Britain to remain a member of the EU but failed to answer the question directly. He instead stated ambiguously: “The atmosphere of our talks would be better if Britain is staying in the European Union.”
On Thursday, Mr. Johnson told Sky News that if Britain votes to remain in the EU we would be sucked into “measures that will take us further into a federal European superstate”. He continued: “The whole exercise in Europe is now aimed at propping up the euro . . . They will try to create a fiscal union, a political union.
“Germany, who is effectively the paymaster of this whole enterprise, will want to insist that there is an economic governance of Europe. Which in my view is already profoundly antidemocratic, but which will tend towards a mission of a United States of Europe, into which Britain will be sucked.”