The European Commission President has opened a speech to the Irish Senate by saying he was “not drunk” but would prefer to be, before warning of a “no deal” Brexit.
Jean-Claude Juncker is on a two-day visit to the country, as the UK and European Union (EU) continue to disagree about how to deal with the Irish border after Brexit.
Mr. Juncker is well known to enjoy a drink, and when he addressed politicians he felt the need to stress his walking had been affected by a back problem instead of alcohol.
Jean-Claude Juncker speaking to the Irish Dáil on his preference for drunkeness…
“I have difficulty walking. I am not drunk. I have sciatica. I would prefer to be drunk.”
— Diane James MEP (@DianeJamesMEP) June 21, 2018
“Mr Speaker, Taoiseach and other members, I have some difficulties walking. I’m not drunk, I have sciatica. I’d prefer to be drunk,” he said.
According to The Telegraph, he added: “It is a real honour to be with you here today for this special sitting of the joint houses.”
He also raised the prospect of a “no deal” Brexit. “As the clock ticks down we must prepare for every eventuality, including a no deal,” he said.
“This is neither a desired or a likely outcome but it is not an impossible one and we are getting ready just in case.”
There isn’t much time left to conclude an agreement on #Brexit & to have it operational before the UK’s departure next March. There is an urgent need to intensify our efforts if we are to get there. We expect the UK to honour their commitments on the backstop in full. pic.twitter.com/o1kSw6Zx7N
— Leo Varadkar (@campaignforleo) June 21, 2018
The European Commission is currently demanding the UK sign up to a Brexit “backstop” where Northern Ireland will stay inside the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union, and be separated from the UK by a sea border until a way of keeping the Irish border open is found.
However, a source told The Telegraph the British cabinet is united in its rejection of the plan.
“I know of no member of the Cabinet in London who would be prepared to sign up to the Commission text. And I include the most ardent of Remainers in that,” the senior Cabinet source said.
Adding: “Unionism is fundamental to how the Conservative party sees itself.”
EU Prez Refuses to Back Down on Plot to ‘Annex’ Northern Ireland Before Crunch Meeting With May https://t.co/o8Z7r77ZEP
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 1, 2018
Speaking at a press conference with Irish leader Leo Varadkar before, also attended by Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, he said:
“This is not a bilateral question between Ireland the United Kingdom – this is an issue between the UK and the European Union.
“We want to make it clear again and again that Ireland is not alone. We have Ireland backed by 26 member states and the Commission – this will not change.
“I am strongly against any temptation to isolate Ireland and not to conclude the deal on Ireland. Ireland has to be part of the deal.”