Brexit is already a body blow to EU bigwig Jean-Claude Juncker’s political career, but now it may be about to hit him where it really hurts – in the drinks cabinet.
The EU Commission President – notoriously fond of a tipple – has been put on notice that his institution’s valuable hoard of fine wines and liquor could be raided by the UK’s Brexit negotiating team.
The Financial Times reported over the weekend that UK officials are totting up a hitlist of items to secure from the EU’s substantial pile of assets.
TFW you hear the UK is coming for your cognac stash pic.twitter.com/2qOoW1qBbC
— Kieran Corcoran (@kj_corcoran) October 1, 2016
According to the newspaper, the European institutions have a combined €8.7 billion of possessions, including property, art and investment-grade wine.
Brussels correspondent Alex Barker also named cognac as a product in their sights – a spirit which has a special place in Juncker’s heart.
Rumours have long circulated in political circles that Juncker has a drinking problem – culminating in claims that he “drinks cognac for breakfast”.
The memorable line was briefed to the Mail on Sunday in 2014, when British officials were spearheading a campaign to block Juncker from the top EU job.
The claims reached a fever pitch during the Brexit campaign when this video appeared of Juncker apparently struggling to control himself around other world leaders at an EU summit:
He said: “You think I’d still be in office if I was having cognac for breakfast? It really makes me sad and it has even led my wife to question if I lie to her, as I do not drink when I’m home.”
Nonetheless, his interviewer noted that Juncker got through four glasses of champagne over their lunch, and recalled another meeting years before when he plowed through glass after glass of white wine, then polished off three cognacs in a row.
Even before Brexit, there was no love lost between Juncker and Britain – Heat Street cannot help but wonder whether there could be more than penny-pinching behind the UK’s apparent drive to part the Commission boss from some of his booze.