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Juncker Admits Brexit Meeting Leaks Were ‘Serious Mistake’ – But Denies Responsibility

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Carl Court/Getty
JACK MONTGOMERY

Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Union’s unelected executive Commission, has conceded leaks of a supposedly “disastrous” meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May in London were “a serious mistake” – but denied personal responsibility.

Senior European Commission sources told the German media that Juncker’s closing words to the prime minister, whom he branded “deluded”, were: “I’m leaving Downing Street ten times more sceptical [that a deal can be made] than I was before.”

German daily Handelsblatt reports the controversial Luxembourger said: “It was a serious mistake that parts of the talks were leaked.”

He denied reports he was behind the leaks himself, however: “I am very good at being self-critical, but this I do not want to be accused for.”

The leaks were attributed to Juncker and his chief of staff, Martin Selmayr, by political insiders.

Selmayr, who has been described as Juncker’s personal Rasputin, is said to have taken the British public’s vote to Leave the European Union “very personally”.

Former Tory leader and Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith claims the bureaucrat and his president wish to “box [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel into a hard line [on Brexit]”.

“They don’t care if negotiations succeed,” he said. “They are obsessed with the idea of the European Union – it’s where their money, jobs and power come from.”

Notably, however, the pair’s “antics” are said to haves angered the German leader.

In Britain, the leaks prompted Mrs. May to issue a combative statement, saying that “threats against Britain have been issued by European politicians and officials”.

She added, in her view, “these acts [had] been deliberately timed to affect the result of the general election that will take place on 8 June.”

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt doubled down on May’s accusation in a subsequent BBC interview, telling long-time anchor Andrew Marr: “They didn’t have to leak these reports to newspapers of dinners that happened in the middle of an election campaign.”

He said this was “the wrong approach to negotiations. They are trying to leak reports that undermine Theresa May’s position.”

Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery

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