Monday

25th Jan 2021

EU denies May 'begged for help'

  • The alleged comments sparked a Twitter storm before being denied by the Commission (Photo: European Commission)

The European Commission has denied it was behind alleged comments that UK prime minister Theresa May had "begged" for help at a dinner in Brussels last week.

Chief commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas on Monday (23 October) described the comments allegedly made by president Jean-Claude Juncker as a ruse to undermine negotiating positions on Britain's departure from the EU.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"Some people like to point at us, to serve their own political agendas, their own political priorities, or even to undermine our negotiating positions," he said.

Schinas added that the EU Commission has "no time for gossip" and hopes the people behind the leaks "would leave us alone".

He also said the Commission has no intention to punish the UK over its decision to leave the EU.

The denial follows a report in German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) on Sunday suggesting May had made desperate pleas to foster support for Britain's tangled departure from the EU.

The article - referring to the pre-summit dinner between May and Juncker in Brussels last Monday, with Michel Barnier, the EU Brexit negotiator, David Davis, the Brexit minister and Martin Selmayr, Juncker's chief of staff also present - does not name any sources.

But it says May had "begged for help", that she appeared to "have deep rings under her eyes" and was "anxious, despondent and disheartened".

The article sparked a minor Twitter storm between May's former advisor, Nick Timothy, and Selmayr on Monday.

Timothy accused Selmayr of leaking May's alleged comments, noting in a tweet that "some in Brussels want no deal or a punitive one".

"This is false. I know it doesn't fit your cliché," responded Selmayr, adding Juncker had "no interest in weakining" May.

BBC reporter Adam Fleming on Monday says that Juncker had also denied the reports.

"I am really surprised - if not shocked - about what has been written in the German press," Fleming cited Juncker as saying in Strasbourg.

It is not the first time that a dinner between May and Juncker over Brexit sparks controversy.

The two met in London in late April, also with Barnier and Selmayr.

According to an article, also in the FAZ and by the same reporter as Sunday's article, Juncker at the time was unimpressed with May's preparation on Brexit .

"I leave Downing Street ten times more sceptical than I was before," he was quoted as saying.

Selmayr was at the time widely considered to be the source for the leak, which May said was "Brussels gossip".

Brexit 'deadlock' prevents move to trade negotiations

EU negotiator Barnier also said after the latest round of Brexit talks that with political will, progress can be achieved in the next two months - in time for the December EU summit to give the green light.

'Sex pest' scandal claims UK senior minister

Defence minister Michael Fallon resigned over sexual harassment allegations, amid a growing scandal that could weaken the government in the middle of crucial Brexit talks.

News in Brief

  1. AstraZeneca told to meet EU vaccine supply commitments
  2. Estonia to get first woman prime minister
  3. Turkey and Greece to hold Mediterranean security talks
  4. Dutch police detain 240 in anti-lockdown protests
  5. Renewables overtake fossil fuels in EU electricity mix
  6. France's top scientist warns of corona 'emergency'
  7. Growing appetite for Northern Ireland independence
  8. Surge in support for Portuguese far-right party

EU prepares to ratify post-Brexit trade deal

EU ambassadors of the 27 member states are meeting on Monday to provisionally apply the agreement, while top MEPs also discuss the way ahead for parliamentary approval.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. Navalny protests sharpen EU sanctions talks
  2. Why Russia politics threaten European security
  3. MEPs call for workers to have 'right to disconnect'
  4. Reality bites EU's 'No More Morias' pledge
  5. Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity
  6. Vaccine delay and Russia sanctions debates This WEEK
  7. Will EU ever take action to stop Israeli settlements?
  8. EU leaders keep open borders, despite new corona variant risk

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us