EU leaders think Brexit talks will collapse after 'disastrous Downing Street dinner' details leaked

The report has been described as a tactical leak by leaders in Brussels

Theresa May reportedly infuriated European Commission leader Jean-Claude Juncker

Monday, May 1, 2017

EU leaders fully expect talks with the UK over Brexit to collapse, after a meeting between Jean-Claude Juncker and Theresa May at Downing Street descended into farce.

That's according to a report in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAZ), which claims Juncker, the president of the European Commission, felt May was totally deluded during the Downing Street dinner.

Although May has suggested the talks were constructive, Juncker reportedly told her as he left that he was "10 times more sceptical than I was before."

It is also claimed that Juncker phoned German Chancellor Angela Merkel the day after the talks to inform her that May was "living in another galaxy."

The FAZ report has been translated in a series of tweets by Economist correspondent Jeremy Cliffe, who describes the allegations as a "highly tactical" leak by leaders in Brussels, but nonetheless hugely worrying for Britain.

The FAZ report claims:

  • May told Juncker and his entourage that the entire EU migrant issue could be sorted out at a single meeting - to Juncker's horror.
  • Brexit minister David Davis annoyed May by regaling the EU representatives with stories about his previous case against her in the European Court of Justice.
  • The EU delegation felt May was significantly under-prepared and under-briefed.
  • May insisted the details of the Brexit talks must be confidential, but the EU side maintained that they must be public.
  • Juncker suggested Britain will become a 'third state', behind even Turkey in terms of its proximity to the customs union.
  • May insisted that Britain does not owe the EU a 'divorce bill', prompting the EU delegation to explain that the bloc is not like a golf club - members can't just quit whenever they want.
  • Davis said the EU cannot force Britain to pay any money on departing - to which Juncker responded by saying Britain will not get a trade deal unless it pays the money.

 

25) Juncker's team now think it more likely than not that Brexit talks will collapse & hope Brits wake up to harsh realities in time.

— Jeremy Cliffe (@JeremyCliffe) 30 de abril de 2017

 

The FAZ report comes as pressure mounts on May over Brexit, with former prime minister Tony Blair suggesting he will reenter the political fray ahead of the general election in June.

Many have predicted that May's Conservatives will win the election comfortably, but the Liberal Democrats have received a huge number of new members on the back of their pledge to fight a 'hard Brexit' which would leave Britain outside the single market.