Theresa May has said she “does not recall the account” of a disastrous dinner with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker which suggested the PM had major Brexit “delusions”.
May renewed her contention that the story printed in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine (FAZ) was “Brussels gossip” when questioned by the BBC’s Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg.
And yet, despite being in the room, the Prime Minister appeared hazy on what was actually said.
The details, briefed by senior Commission sources, reveal Juncker told May as he left that he was “ten times more skeptical than I was before” about securing a good Brexit deal.
May was accused of living in another galaxy, and the Prime Minister had to be reminded the EU is not a golf club as she claimed the UK did not legally owe any money in a ‘divorce bill’.
Some have argued that Juncker might not be the most reliable witness if he was the source of the leak.
When questioned over the flashpoint, the PM alluded to ex-Tory Cabinet minister Ken Clarke’s remark that May was “a bloody difficult woman”.
“And I said at the time the next person to find that out will be Jean-Claude Juncker,” she added.
But then followed an exchange over the dinner:
Kuenssberg: “Did Jean-Claude Juncker say to you Brexit cannot be a success?”
May: “I don’t - look - I don’t recall the account that has been given of the meeting that took place. I think a lot of this is Brussels gossip.”
Kuenssberg: “But it was done in London and you were there. It’s not Brussels gossip. Either he said it to you or he did not?”
May: “I think that the account that I’ve seen - a lot of that is Brussels gossip.
“But what is important is that there is a key question for people when they come to this election.
“We’ve seen from all of this that these negotiations at times will be tough. Getting the right deal requires the right leadership.
“And there’s only going to be one of two people sitting around that table.
“The twenty seven other EU countries on one side of the table and who is going to be there standing up for the UK? It’s either going to be me or Jeremy Corbyn.”