I’LL PUN­ISH BRI­TAIN

Juncker vows to make UK pay heav­ily for Brexit so other na­tions ‘re­alise it’s not worth it’

Daily Mail - - News - By Ja­son Groves Political Editor

BRI­TAIN will be pun­ished for Brexit to dis­cour­age other EU states from quit­ting, Euro­pean Com­mis­sion chief Jean- Claude Juncker has warned.

In an in­cen­di­ary in­ter­ven­tion, Mr Juncker sug­gested Brus­sels would use the Brexit talks to make an ex­am­ple of the UK in or­der to pre­vent the col­lapse of the EU.

He also warned Theresa May she will have to ac­cept a con­tro­ver­sial de­mand from Brus­sels for a £50bil­lion ‘divorce pay­ment’.

Asked by the Ger­man news­pa­per Bild am Son­ntag whether he was con­cerned that other mem­ber states will fol­low Bri­tain’s ex­am­ple in quit­ting, Mr Juncker said: ‘No. Bri­tain’s ex­am­ple will make ev­ery­one re­alise that it’s not worth leav­ing.’

He added: ‘On the con­trary, the re­main­ing mem­ber states will fall in love with each other again and re­new their vows with the Euro­pean Union.’

Mr Juncker, for­mer prime min­is­ter of Lux­em­bourg, also warned that Bri­tain would need to get used to be­ing treated as a non-mem­ber of the EU. ‘Half mem­ber­ships and cherry-pick­ing aren’t pos­si­ble. In Europe you eat what’s on the ta­ble or you don’t sit at the ta­ble,’ he said.

Tory MPs re­acted angrily to Mr Juncker’s com­bat­ive state­ment, which is out of step with the more con­struc­tive tone struck by Ger­many and other EU coun­tries in re­cent months. Euroscep­tic MP Peter Bone said: ‘It is like the dy­ing words of the leader of an em­pire as it col­lapses. The trou­ble is of course the Euro­pean elite have ig­nored the wishes of their peo­ple for so long.

‘He is out of touch, liv­ing in a fool’s par­adise. The prob­lem of Brexit is en­tirely a prob­lem for the EU.’

Se­nior Tories also dis­missed the idea that the UK will have to make a pay­ment when it leaves on the scale de­manded by Brus­sels.

A House of Lords re­port this month said the UK had no le­gal duty to pay any­thing once it has left.

Brexit min­is­ter David Jones yes­ter­day de­scribed the re­port’s find­ings as ‘very help­ful’, al­though he did not rule out Bri­tain mak­ing some form of pay­ment as part of the ne­go­ti­a­tions over leav­ing the EU.

Tory MP Ja­cob Rees-Mogg said Bri­tain owed ‘ not even a far­thing’. And vet­eran Euroscep­tic Sir Bill Cash said the EU should take into ac­count that the UK helped can­cel half of Ger­many’s war debts in 1953.

Sir Bill, chair­man of the Com­mons Euro­pean Scru­tiny Com­mit­tee which was ques­tion­ing Mr Jones over EU-UK re­la­tions, asked the min­is­ter: ‘Has any­one pointed out to them that we have been net con­trib­u­tors for many decades to the tune of what is now £9-£10bil­lion a year?

‘Any ac­cu­mu­lated li­a­bil­i­ties are off­set by the mas­sive con­tri­bu­tions we have made.

‘There is also the fact that back in 1953 we had the London Debt Agree­ment where Ger­many, for all its malfea­sance dur­ing the Se­cond World War and its un­pro­voked ag­gres­sion... found that we re­mit­ted half of all Ger­man debt.

‘Given Ger­many’s dom­i­na­tion in the EU, it might be worth tact­fully re­mind­ing peo­ple.’

Mr Juncker’s com­ments ap­pear to be an­other ri­poste to Boris John­son’s claim that the UK can ‘have its cake and eat it’ in the Brexit talks. The For­eign Sec­re­tary has sug­gested that Bri­tain can re­tain good trade links with­out sign­ing up to free move­ment, mas­sive con­tri­bu­tions to the Brus­sels bud­get and con­tin­ued EU bu­reau­cracy.

Down­ing Street played down Mr Juncker’s lat­est in­ter­ven­tion yes­ter­day. The PM’s of­fi­cial spokesman said: ‘We have said many times we are at the start of ne­go­ti­a­tions and let’s see how it un­folds.’

But Richard Tice, co-chair­man of Leave Means Leave, said: ‘For the Pres­i­dent of the EU Com­mis­sion to make th­ese dis­parag­ing com­ments be­fore ne­go­ti­a­tions have started is com­pletely in­ap­pro­pri­ate as well as be­ing il­le­gal ac­cord­ing to the word­ing of Ar­ti­cle 50. It seems clear that he is de­ter­mined to pur­sue a spite­ful cam­paign against Bri­tain, which will im­pact neg­a­tively on the cit­i­zens of the EU he claims to rep­re­sent.

‘No deal is bet­ter than a bad deal and if the EU is adamant about of­fer­ing us such a bad deal, the Prime Min­is­ter should walk away at the ear­li­est op­por­tu­nity.’

Col­laps­ing em­pire: Mr Juncker

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