Juncker: I don’t like ‘what is happening’ in Tory race
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he does not like “what is happening” in the race among Tory leadership candidates to succeed Theresa May.
Speaking at a POLITICO Playbook Live event in Brussels he reiterated the EU27 position that the Withdrawal Agreement could not be renegotiated. When asked if he had a preference among the leadership hopefuls, Juncker said, after a long pause, “no.”
Most of the candidates to replace Theresa May are proposing changes to the deal agreed by May’s government which then failed three times to win support among MPs. But Juncker said: “There will be no renegotiations as far as the content of the Withdrawal Agreement is concerned.”
“This is not a treaty between Theresa May and Juncker,” the European Commission chief added.
When asked specifically about Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s proposal to add a time limit to the Northern Ireland backstop to the Political Declaration, Juncker answered “no,” although he said there would be scope for changing parts of the document that referred to the future relationship.
“I have the impression for months now that the main interest for the British political society was how to replace Theresa May and not how to find agreement with the European Union,” he said.
And asked if he thought Brexit would happen, he said: “My working assumption is that the British will leave before the 1st November.”