EU denies leaking that Theresa May "begged for help" over dinner
Senior EU figures have hit back at claims they leaked details of a private dinner after claims Theresa May appeared “anxious”, “tormented”, “despondent and discouraged” at the meeting with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
In highly personal account of the dinner in Brussels last Monday, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), the Prime Minister reportedly "begged for help" from EU counterparts to deliver a positive Brexit deal.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman said he had “no comment on it whatsoever” on the report, which contains no direct quotes.
Mrs May’s spokesman added: "I would point you to what is on the record, which is a joint statement by the European Commission and by Downing Street, which said that the talks were constructive and friendly."
It follows a leak in FAZ following a dinner between the pair at Downing Street earlier this year, after which Mr Juncker was claimed to be “10 times more sceptical” that a Brexit deal could be reached.
Theresa May's former chief of staff, Nick Timothy, blamed Martin Selmayr for an account of last week’s private meeting, tweeting: "After constructive Council meeting, Selmayr does this. Reminder that some in Brussels want no deal or a punitive one."
But Mr Selmayr, Mr Juncker's chief of staff, accused Mr Timothy of spreading "false" claims and insisted that Brussels did not want to weaken the Prime Minister's position.
In his response to Mr Timothy he suggested there were some people who had an interest in undermining the "constructive" relationship between Mr Juncker and Mrs May.
Mr Selmayr responded with his own tweet: "This is false. I know it doesn't fit your cliche, @NickJTimothy. But @JunckerEU & I have no interest in weakening PM.
"But it seems some have interest in undermining constructive relations @JunckerEU & PM May. Who? is the real question."
Mr Selmayr, considered one of the most powerful operators in Brussels, was also accused of the previous leak to FAZ.
At a press briefing, Mr Juncker’s official spokesman also dismissed claims of an EU leak.
The spokesman said: "Normally, we do not comment on leaks. But today I will. Some people like to point at us to serve their own political agendas, their own political priorities, or even to undermine our negotiating position.
"We would appreciate if these people would leave us alone. We have lots of work and no time for gossip.
"I have to be very clear that President Juncker would have never used the words attributed to him, and never would he have said anything like this.
"We have never been punitive on Brexit. We have said, at all levels, on many occasions, that we are working for a fair deal."