Saturday

28th May 2022

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.

Opinion

When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin

Neither Reagan nor Gorbachev achieved their goal at the famous Reykjavik summit of 1986. Despite that fact there are lessons that current leaders — particularly Vladimir Putin — could adopt from these two iconic leaders.

Opinion

Orbán's overtures to Moscow are distasteful and detrimental

Some Western European politicians are reviving the chimera of a negotiated settlement. None of this makes the current, half-hearted approach towards sanctioning Russia look better — nor does it shed any favourable light on the cravenness of Hungary's current government.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us