Do leaked documents reveal EU’s secret tactics to undermine quick Brexit deal on citizens’ rights?
The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, recently claimed to be “astonished” by the UK prime minister’s proposal to start talks on migrants’ rights as early as June.
Leaked documents seen by the Telegraph, however, indicate that May first suggested the idea of a quick deal on April 6, during talks with European Council President Donald Tusk.
It would seem unlikely May’s suggestion wouldn’t have been passed on to other senior EU officials.
The suggestion is that Juncker’s declaration of astonishment is actually part of subtle EU attempts not only to block any kind of deal with the UK, but to do so without admitting it publicly.
The findings come after the leader of the EU Commission claimed he is now “10 times more skeptical” about the deal after an infamous dinner last week with the PM.
The PM, however, shrugged off the negative account of the meeting as “Brussels gossip.”
“From what I have seen of this account, I think it is Brussels gossip. Just look at what the European Commission themselves said immediately after the dinner took place, which was that the talks had been constructive,” May told reporters.
“But it also shows that actually at times these negotiations are going to be tough.
“And in order to get the best deal for Britain we need to ensure that we’ve got that strong and stable leadership going into those negotiations.”
During the meeting last week, May reportedly told Juncker and the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier that she sees no reason why the UK has to pay a bill of up to £50 billion (about US$65 billion) to divorce the bloc.
Juncker told the PM the EU is not “a golf club” from which members can withdraw at any time, according to the Telegraph.
What seems to have baffled Juncker the most though is May’s suggestion that she would seek a deal for migrants next month.
According to diplomatic papers, however, Piotr Serafin, chief of staff to Tusk, told the 27 EU ‘Remainer’ states at a meeting on April 11 that May had clarified that she would be seeking a deal “probably as early as June.”
A source with direct knowledge of the meeting said: “Serafin warned everyone present that it was very important not to give the impression that the EU was blocking an early agreement on citizens’ rights.”
Iain Duncan Smith, a former Tory leader, said Tusk is exploiting the issue to his own advantage.
“It’s clear and obvious that Juncker briefed this story with the sole intention of making himself look good,” Smith said, according to the paper.
“This is all part of his self-aggrandisement and if nothing demonstrates that the vote last year to leave was a good decision it is this miserable and rude action of the president of the EU.”