Theresa May faces another Brexit setback after the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAZ) published what Politico describes as a “detailed and frankly embarrassing” account of the PM’s latest dinner with Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president reports The Week.
According to the leak, the PM warned that she had sacrificed considerable political capital with her Florence speech and needed concessions to survive at home.
“She begged for help,” the German paper says. “Theresa May seemed anxious to the president of the Commission, despondent and discouraged.”
Juncker also reportedly told colleagues that May has “deep rings” under her eyes and is “drawn from the struggle with her own party.”
Contrary to No. 10’s claims, FAZ says the dinner was arranged at the last minute and at May’s request. It also says that her long phone conversations with Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Emmanuel Macron were not seen as a charm offensive but as “calls for help,” which were rebuffed.
“Merkel, Macron and Juncker could not be softened,” FAZ reports. “All three insisted on further progress, especially on the sensitive issue of money, before there could be direct talks about the future.”
The Germans would not step in. “Brexit was not wanted and they could not solve the problems of the British for them, they said dryly in the chancellor’s office.”
Six months ago, the German publication printed a warts-and-all report of May’s first dinner with Juncker where it claimed he thought the British Prime Minister was “living in another galaxy” and “deluding herself” over the Brexit negotiations – statements that prompted May to accuse the EU of using “threats” to undermine the UK’s election.
This time around the article “contains more sorrow than anger,” says Huffpost’s Paul Waugh. “The report makes clear that while May is keen to get the transition phase locked down, the EU is still very much focused on the money.”
Elsewhere, Politico’s Tom McTague reports that Eurosceptic MPs now fear a no-deal scenario could kill off Brexit altogether.