David Davis: EU Prez ‘Juncker’s Trying to Get Me Fired’
Jean-Claude Junker tried to get Britain’s Brexit Minister David Davis sacked by allowing negative briefings about him, Davis has claimed.
In an interview with The Telegraph on a visit to Thurrock, Essex, Mr. Davis said the Commission president had hoped to edge him out of his role as Brexit minister by allowing negative briefings to be given to the media.
Citing one example, Mr. Davis recounted a German newspaper report on a dinner at 10 Downing Street attended by Mr. Juncker and Prime Minister Theresa May, in which Mrs May was said to have been “not amused” by Mr Davis highlighting a legal challenge in the European courts against the UK’s surveillance powers, while he was still a backbench MP.
“The visitors wondered whether Davis would still be in charge of the negotiations after the election,” the report said.
Other examples included the claim, given to the Financial Times, that EU negotiators would demand a Brexit bill of €100 billion be paid by the UK upon leaving the EU.
“In all these stories there was a briefing against me trying to get me sacked – which of course is a compliment by the way,” Davis said.
“If they don’t want me across the table then there’s a reason for that, and that’s a reason in Britain’s interests, not theirs.”
Mr. Juncker’s chief of staff, Martin Selmayr has been named as the figure behind the dinner party briefing, in which it was also claimed Mr. Juncker had remarked, following the dinner: “I leave Downing Street ten times as sceptical as I was before.”
The report escalated tensions between the two parties, prompting Mrs. May to claim that Brussels was trying to interfere in the general election scheduled for June.
As claims and counter-claims flew, EU Council President Donald Tusk was forced to call for calm, saying: “The stakes are too high to let our emotions get out of hand. Because at stake are the daily lives and interests of millions of people.”
Mr Juncker this week apologised for the briefing, calling it a “serious mistake” and insisting that he and Mrs. May had got on well at the meeting.
Mr. Davis said: “I think to be honest he [Juncker] has now learned his lesson – he is not going to be meddling in British politics any more or at least if he does he will get the same reaction.”