Juncker Blames ‘Friend’ Tony Blair’s Approach to EU for Causing Brexit

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker (L) greets Former British prime minister Tony Blair upon his arrival for a meeting at the European Commission in Brussels on August 31, 2017
EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

Outgoing President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker has blamed his “friend” Tony Blair, in part, for Brexit, because the former prime minister continued to mislead the British people that the European Union was merely an economic project.

The chief of the EU’s powerful executive arm has long been committed to European expansionism, even calling for a “fully-fledged” EU army by 2025.

While Eurosceptics have warned that the European Union was an ever-growing project that seeks greater integration at the cost of national sovereignty, Mr Juncker took the Brussels establishment’s globalist aims as a point of pride. In an interview with Der Spiegel, the Eurocrat chastised Mr Blair for perpetuating the British political “narrative” that the United Kingdom was only engaged in the European Project for “economic reasons” and for downplaying the significance of the “political union”.

“I have been involved in European politics since December 1982 and have seen time and again that the British have operated on the premise: We are only in the EU for economic reasons.

“When it came to the political union, to moving closer together, they wanted nothing to do with the EU. That was even the case with my friend Tony Blair. If you stick to that narrative for over 40 years, it should not come as a surprise when people remember it during the referendum,” he told the German magazine.

Mr Juncker was supposed to hand his role over to the German former defence minister Ursula von der Leyen on November 1st. However, her appointment was delayed after the European Parliament rejected nominations for her senior team. Ms von der Leyen may take up her post as late as December or even January.

The Eurocrat made similar comments in May when he remarked that the British “political elite” were never “passionate about Europe”. He complained that “for decades” British politicians had told Britons that the EU was about “about economic interests, not values”.

While Mr Juncker regrets not interfering in the 2016 referendum, he said he was not surprised that Britons voted to leave, saying that he had even put money on a bet with the UK’s then-Commissioner Jonathan Hill.

“I was one of those early on who was firmly convinced that this referendum would go wrong. When then-Prime Minister David Cameron told me on the sidelines of the 2014 G-20 summit in Brisbane that he really wanted to hold a Brexit referendum, I told him: ‘You’re going to lose it,'” he said.

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