British Prime Minister Theresa May has accused EU chiefs of trying to hijack next month’s UK general election.
May lambasted the EU elite for their “deliberately timed” threats and smears against her government in what she said was an attempt to influence the June 8 national poll.
Hr accusation came as the row over the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU intensifies. EU bosses now say Britain should pay up to £100 billion (about $130 billion) when it quits the EU for good in 2019 – twice the figure originally forecast.
May is convinced the EU is trying to scare the British public into voting for pro-EU candidates who want to water down or even reverse last summer’s Brexit vote.
Although she did not name him directly, her remarks were taken as a clear dig at EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, the hard-drinking 62-year-old ex-prime minister of the tiny tax haven of Luxembourg.
Juncker, who allegedly enjoys brandy for breakfast and has a long-standing love of red wine, is a hate figure among British Eurosceptics, who regard him as the epitome of the EU elite.
Following days of negative new stories, May gave a speech yesterday warning that EU chiefs want to punish the UK for quitting the EU.
She said: ‘If we let the bureaucrats of Brussels run over us, we will lose the chance to build a fairer society with opportunity for all.’
She added: ‘Threats against Britain have been issued by European politicians and officials. All of these acts have been deliberately timed to affect the result of the general election.’
She went on: ‘Whatever our wishes, and however reasonable the positions of Europe’s other leaders – there are some in Brussels who do not want these talks to succeed. Who do not want Britain to prosper. So now more than ever we need to be led by a prime minister and a government that is strong and stable.’
Last week Juncker and the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, attended a dinner in London held by May which resulted in a slew of awkward press stories for the UK prime minister.
One leading German newspaper said that Juncker described Mrs May as ‘delusional’ and ‘living in another galaxy’ as a result of how she regarded the EU divorce settlement. It said he left the dinner ‘ten times more sceptical’ about the prospect of a deal.
Juncker’s chief of staff Martin Selmayr, said yesterday: ‘Brexit can never become a success. It is a sad and sorry event.’
May has previously suggested that no deal with the EU would be better than a bad deal as far as Britain is concerned, showing that she would be willing to walk away from talks altogether.