Brexit dinner with 'tormented' Theresa leaves a bitter aftertaste… again
Who leaked the latest account of a disastrous dinner with Jean-Claude Juncker?
When Theresa May had dinner with Jean-Claude Juncker in April, it did not quite to plan according to some reports.
One source told the Guardian that the European Commission president was "calm and sarcastic" in the face of the prime minister’s insistence that talks about the future relationship should start early and that Britain did not owe any money to the EU.
Another account of the evening published by the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung said that Juncker’s last words were: "I’m leaving Downing Street 10 times more sceptical than I was before."
Fast forward six months and Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitungn has another withering account of the latest dinner. It is written by Thomas Gutschker, the same political correspondent who wrote the last one.
It states that May "begged for help" and "said she had no room for manoeuvre".
And then it begins to get personal:
"Theresa May seemed anxious to the President of the Commission, despondent and discouraged. A woman who hardly dares trust anybody, but is not ready for an act of liberation either. May’s facial expressions and appearance spoke volumes — that’s how Juncker later described it to his colleagues.
"Everyone can see it: the Prime Minister is drawn from the struggle within her own party. She has deep circles under her eyes. She looks like someone who does not sleep for nights on end. She rarely laughs, though clearly, she has to for the photographers. But it looks forced. Previously, May could literally pour out laughter — her whole body shaking. Now she has to use her utmost strength to avoid losing her composure."
You can read an English translation of the full account here. Some Brexiteers responded to it by immediately pointing fingers at the European Commission president's senior staff. Among those hitting out was May’s former chief of staff Nick Timothy, who showed no hesitation in pinning the blame on Juncker’s chief of staff Martin Selmayr.
He tweeted angrily: "After constructive Council meeting, Selmayr does this. Reminder that some in Brussels want no deal or a punitive one."
But Selmayr has denied leaking and told Timothy: "This is false. I know it doesn't fit your cliché... But @JunckerEU & I have no interest in weakening PM."
Could there be another explanation for the leak? An alternative theory conveniently overlooked by Brexiteers is that the leading German journalist simply worked his sources to get them to reveal more than they intended...