Monday

23rd Sep 2019

EU gangs up on Cameron

  • Cameron (l) and Juncker. "If someone complains about Europe from Monday to Saturday then nobody is going to believe him on Sunday when he says he is a convinced European", Juncker said (Photo: European Commission)

The French foreign minister has said that a new British prime minister should be appointed “in a few days”, hours after the European Commission chief suggested that the current PM David Cameron was responsible for Brexit.

“A new prime minister has to be appointed; that will take a few days,” Ayrault said in Berlin at a meeting of the foreign ministers of the EU’s six founding countries - Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.

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He said the British government “must trigger” article 50 of the EU treaty, so that talks to organise the UK’s exit from the EU can start.

“It’s a question of respect” for the EU, he said. His five colleagues also urged Cameron to accelerate the move.

Cameron on Friday said he would step down after summer and that it would be up to the next PM to “start the formal and legal process of leaving the EU”.

“We expect the UK government to provide clarity and give effect to this decision [the Brexit vote] as soon as possible,” the six ministers said in a statement.

The call for a quick handover in London came after the EU commission put the blame of the referendum result on Cameron.

“The usual reflex is for the finger to be pointed at Brussels. Yet in this case, that is completely wrong: the referendum was called by the British prime minister,” Jean-Claude Juncker said in an interview with German tabloid Bild published on Saturday.

He said Cameron did not do enough to secure the UK’s membership in the EU.

“Here in Brussels, we did everything to accommodate David Cameron's concerns,” Juncker said.

He said that he and his colleagues “spent countless days and nights” last winter on reaching an agreement on EU reform with Cameron and that he was surprised that the new deal “played no role whatsoever” in Cameron’s referendum campaign.

'Not acceptable'

“At the same time it is hardly surprising. If someone complains about Europe from Monday to Saturday then nobody is going to believe him on Sunday when he says he is a convinced European,” Juncker added, referring to Cameron’s eurosceptic profile.

Juncker’s comments come after one of his commissioners, Germany’s Gunther Oettinger, told Euronews TV on Friday that what Cameron did “is not acceptable”.

Oettinger said that after Cameron struck the EU deal last winter he gave a “clear order” that the commission should stay out of the referendum campaign.

Asked if the result was Cameron’s fault, the commissioner said: “I think so. Yes”.

EU urges UK to submit Brexit papers

Cameron does not want to apply for Brexit, but let his successor do it. That could take until October. “Any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty," EU leaders have said.

Analysis

After Brexit, EU leaders start soul-searching

The general public and financial markets are waiting for the EU's response to the British shock. But when leaders meet at next week's summit, there will be more questions than answers.

EU will not press UK for immediate exit talks

EU leaders say there is a "very significant crisis" in the UK. At a summit on Tuesday, they will not press the British prime minister to trigger the procedure to leave the EU.

Juncker: No-deal Brexit 'palpable'

EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said he is not emotionally attached to the Irish backstop, but workable solutions are required to keep the peace on the island.

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Opinion

How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament

British plans to - maybe - take part in EU elections risk legal chaos in the next European Parliament, which could be resolved only by treaty change - an unlikely prospect.

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