Britain’s Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Brexit Minister) David Davis reacts as he leaves Downing Street in central London on May 3, 2017 / AFP PHOTO / Justin TALLIS
Britain’s Brexit minister David Davis on Friday said European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker had tried to meddle in British politics but “learned his lesson” from the government’s tough reaction.
“I think to be honest he 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,” Davis told the Daily Telegraph.
Relations between Britain and EU leaders have become increasingly rancorous in the run-up to Britain’s June 8 general election, with Prime Minister Theresa May accusing Brussels of interference ahead of highly complex talks on Britain’s departure from the EU.
The diplomatic row erupted earlier this month following a report in German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that Juncker had left a dinner meeting with May “10 times more sceptical” about the prospect of a Brexit deal and told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that May was in a “different galaxy”.
The report also said that following the dinner the EU officials present “wondered whether Davis would still be in charge of the negotiations after the election” because of apparent tensions between Davis and May.
“All these stories are briefing against me, trying to get me sacked — which of course is a compliment,” Davis said on Friday, adding: “If they don’t want me across the table, there is a reason for that”.
Davis accused EU officials of being responsible for the leak to the German daily, saying they may have acted because of the expectation of a major victory by May’s Conservative Party in the election.
“They know a big mandate from the British people is a big mandate in the negotiation and helps (us) and doesn’t help him (Juncker),” Davis said.
Juncker last week warned Davis against threatening to walk out of the exit talks over a row about the bill Britain must pay.
Davis had dismissed a report in the Financial Times suggesting that Britain’s exit bill had could soar to as much as 100 billion euros ($109 billion).
“I don’t think that David was right when he was threatening that he would be ready to go out,” Juncker said.
“My experience in politics always was that those who are going out have to come back.”