The European Commission president has said he “hates” the idea of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, whilst slamming the “superficial” British press and implying the bloc’s chief negotiator is not being tough enough with the UK.
Appearing at a press conference Friday, a short-tempered Jean-Claude Juncker spoke alongside European Council President Donald Tusk.
Mr. Tusk had implied the Commission’s chief negotiator, Michael Barnier, had been wrong to use the word “deadlock” three times to describe the state of Brexit talks after meeting Brexit Secretary David Davis, saying that reports of stalling progress were exaggerated.
When questioned about their opposing statement, Mr. Tusk said he was more “optimistic” as a “positive motivator”, but Mr. Barnier’s job was to negotiate. Yet despite their differing “rhetoric”, they were on the “same line”, he claimed.
However, the unelected Mr. Juncker hit back at Mr. Tusk’s optimism. “In my rhetorics [sic], I would have used the word ‘deadlock’ four times not only three times,” he blasted.
He said Mr. Barnier was “probably” right to be pessimistic having had a “superficial” look at the outcome of Brexit talks, adding: “Only a superficial one because with the British press you have to be as superficial as the British press is.”
Jean-Claude Juncker: I hate the no deal scenario. I am not in favour of no deal, I want to have a fair deal with Britain. pic.twitter.com/KnoKjYi4SR
— BrexitCentral (@BrexitCentral) October 20, 2017
He continued: “I want to say that our working assumption is not the ‘no deal’ scenario – I hate the ‘no deal’ scenario – and by the way, I don’t know what that means.
“Nobody was explaining to me what would be the consequences of a total ‘no deal’ arrangement. I am not in favour of ‘no deal’ – I want to have a fair deal with Britain,” he said.
He later backtracked, saying he did indeed understand what a ‘no deal’ would mean, but claimed that no one on the British side had explained it to him.
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday that negotiations over the demanded Brexit ‘divorce bill’ were not yet “halfway” though.
However, Prime Minister Theresa May has already offered to pay around 20 billion euros and said EU courts could continue to wield power in the UK after 2019.