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EU Secretary-General Gloats After England’s World Cup Heartbreak

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GEERT VANDEN WIJNGAERT/MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images

Martin Selmayr, the head of the EU bureaucracy once described as the ‘Rasputin of Brussels’, mocked England after they were knocked out of the World Cup by Croatia on social media.

Selmayr was until recently chief of staff to President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, who affectionately referred to him as “the Monster of the Berlaymont” — a reference to the Commission’s headquarters building.

Whitehall insiders have previously warned that the German, whose grandfather served on Hitler’s General Staff in the Balkans, is “a true believer in the European Project and has taken Brexit very personally”, and that he wants the EU to “punish” the British to set an example for unhappy member-states — regardless of the economic consequences for the bloc.

“He has always felt the UK was getting in the way of greater European integration and is clear that if you choose to leave there is a cost to doing so,” a source told The Telegraph.

“His mindset is that of a lawyer, whose worldview is about rules and not political judgment.”

Selmayr’s decision to gloat over England’s loss to Croatia, the EU’s newest member-state, despite the bureaucracy’s official neutrality and the fact that the United Kingdom as a whole is still an EU member-state itself, at least for now, drew sharp criticism even from hardline EU loyalists.

“Graceless,” tweeted Tim Farron, who led the slavishly europhile Liberal Democrats through the EU referendum, and adopted an anti-Brexit party manifesto for the subsequent snap election.

“I’m pro EU, but sometimes you wazzocks make it hard to be so,” he added.

His sentiments were shared by Pippa Crerar, Deputy Political Editor of The Guardian, house newspaper of Britain’s leftist establishment: “I’m as remain as they come, but this is graceless,” she remarked.

Selmayr’s move from Juncker’s enforcer to head of the EU civil service in February remains controversial, with many describing it as a “coup”.

Commission presidents are not supposed to be able to install their henchmen to such positions of power in the bureaucracy at a stroke, but Juncker was able to do so by appointing Selmayr to the vacant post of Deputy Secretary-General, before announcing the retirement of the incumbent Secretary-General and then promoting the brand new deputy in his place — all in a matter of mere minutes.

“We had witnessed an impeccably prepared and audacious power-grab,” one Commissioner told the Spectator, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The magazine noted that this “power grab” would not have been possible without the assistance of Irene Souka, the European Commission’s Director-General of Human Resources, who was afterwards “amply rewarded for her efforts [when] her job was extended beyond compulsory retirement age (as was that of her husband, Dominique Ristori, who is Director-General for Energy).”

Opponents of the takeover — so brazen that the European Parliament has been forced to announce a probe into how it took place — were said to have been “unceremoniously fired”.

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