Theresa May 'begged for help' from Jean-Claude Juncker on Brexit

Theresa May, Donald Tusk and Claude JunckerMatt Cardy / GettyTheresa May with Donald Tusk and Claude Juncker.
  • EU sources leak highly personal account of dinner between Theresa May and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.
  • May is described as “anxious… despondent and discouraged,” with “deep rings” under her eyes.
  • The prime minister “begged for help” on Brexit, according to the account leaked to the German press.
  • May’s allies react with fury to the latest leak.

LONDON — Theresa May “begged for help” from the EU to save Brexit negotiations, according to a leaked account of her dinner last week with European Commission president Claude Juncker.

The prime minister appeared “anxious… despondent and discouraged,” and had “deep rings” under eyes due to the “enemies at her neck… waiting for her to fall” according to the account given to the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

The “tormented” prime minister reportedly told Juncker that “she had no room for manoeuvre” with her own party on so pleaded with the EU to make some room for her in negotiations.

“May’s facial expressions and her appearance spoke volumes,”Juncker told colleagues.

“She looks like someone who does not sleep at night.”

“She looks tormented. Previously, May could literally pour out laughter, her whole body then vibrated. Now she brings out the utmost force to avoid losing her temper.”

The account also reflects concerns in Europe that May could be replaced with a new Conservative leader and prime minister who would take a harder line in negotiations.

“Merkel, Macron and Juncker know exactly how fragile their situation is,” it states.

“Better to negotiate with a realistic May than with the dream dancer Johnson, is thus the calculus on the continent.”

May’s allies reacted with fury to the latest leak, following a similar leak to the same paper after May’s last dinner with Juncker in April.

The PM’s former chief of staff Nick Timothy blamed Martin Selmayr, Mr Juncker’s chief of staff, for the leak.

“After constructive Council meeting, Selmayr does this,” Timothy tweeted.

“Reminder that some in Brussels want no deal or a punitive one.”

The leak follows the EU Council’s decision last week to put the next phase of Brexit negotiations on hold until the end of the year.

Negotiations have reached what senior EU figures have described as “deadlock” over the question of Britain’s so-called “divorce bill”.

May has reportedly privately agreed to pay a sum of around €40 billion to the EU but has yet to formerly state this in negotiations.

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