Juncker tells May he is ’10 times more sceptical than before’ on Brexit
Account of meeting between PM and EU commission head sees some close to latter put chances of talks failing at over 50%
A devastating account of a dinner in Downing Street between Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker has emerged, claiming the European commission president ended discussions about a potential Brexit deal by telling the British prime minister: Im leaving Downing Street 10 times more sceptical than I was before.
Those close to Juncker are said to have subsequently concluded that the chances of Brexit talks failing were now over 50%. An EU spokesman declined to comment, except to point out that Juncker had told reporters at a summit on Saturday that the dinner was a very constructive meeting, a friendly atmosphere.
The detailed account of the meeting on Wednesday between May and Juncker, who was accompanied by the EUs chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, and key staff, suggests the two sides are dangerously divided on key issues such as Britains divorce bill and the future rights of EU citizens.
According to German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, May is said to have told Juncker the UK did not legally owe a penny to the EU under existing treaties.
She is also said to have told him the issue of citizens rights could be settled in the opening few weeks of formal negotiations, which are due to start in June after the UK general election.
It was reported that May suggested EU citizens would in future receive only the same rights in relation to living and working in the UK as anyone else who was not a British citizen.
Juncker responded that such a scenario would be problematic, because EU citizens currently enjoy additional rights. I think you are underestimating this, Theresa, he was quoted as saying.
Juncker reportedly called the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, after the dinner, claiming May was on a different galaxy.
The commission has compiled a dossier on the rights it expects EU nationals living in the UK to keep and those it expects EU citizens to be able to acquire should they move to Britain.