The UK will not enter into “a briefing war” with the European Commission over Brexit talks, according to Conservative party sources.
The UK government issued the statement after it emerged that there was considerable tension between British prime minister Theresa May and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker at a Downing Street dinner.
A German newspaper ran an article on Monday with the headline “The disastrous Brexit dinner,” claiming that after the meal, Juncker said he was “ten times more skeptical than before.”
The paper reported that May said, “Let’s make Brexit a success,” and Juncker replied, “Brexit cannot be a success.”
The two sides, Juncker told German chancellor Angela Merkel later, are living in different galaxies.
May dismissed the reports of repeated clashes between her and Juncker in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung as “Brussels gossip.”
Home secretary Amber Rudd added that the alleged rift between the two politicians was mere “tittle-tattle.”
Many took to Twitter to mock the awkward political encounter.
— Martin Shovel (@MartinShovel) 2 May 2017
‘No deal is still better than a bad deal'(Theresa May). You can hear fear in her voice since last week’s dinner with Barnier & Juncker #Marr
— George Eccles (@gweccles) 30 April 2017
Some even suggested that the food was a point of contention.
Leaked details show May’s disastrous dinner with Juncker. So he doesn’t like roast beef, fish and chips or curry? Tish. How insulting!
— Gilflirt (@GIL_FLIRT) 2 May 2017
The accounts of the tense dinner come at a crucial time for May, as she prepares for next month’s general election.
An electoral victory will strengthen her hand in the upcoming negotiations with the EU.
However, the alleged disagreements between her and Juncker — their differences of opinion on a variety of issues including the question of how much Britain will have to pay as part of the “divorce settlement” does not inspire confidence that relations between the two sides are amicable.
“I’m not in a different galaxy, but I think what this shows, and what some of the other comments we’ve seen coming from European leaders shows, is that there are going to be times when these negotiations are going to be tough,” May admitted on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.