In an exclusive interview for New Europe’s Editor Alexandros Koronakis, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker made extensive reference to the Brexit negotiations and prospects, clearly highlighting that this is a “British problem.”
President Juncker was not shocked by the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union, but he regrets the decision to not intervene during the referendum campaign. “I made a major mistake,” Juncker said.
He characterizes the campaign leading up the referendum vote in the UK in a less than positive light, saying there were misleading political slogans and clear lies. He regrets following then Prime Minister David Cameron’s advice to not step into the referendum campaign. “This was a major mistake because the Commission could have said that ‘those who are advocating a ‘No’ are lying,” Juncker said. “We had the knowledge. We were forbidden by the UK government to present this knowledge and to argue with objective figures.”
However, despite his mistake, Juncker feels no remorse over Brexit. To him, it is not a European problem. “It is a European difficulty,” he adds. “But it was a British problem because they never felt themselves at ease in this European Union. As for the UK’s upcoming final exit from the EU on 31st October, and the prospects of rejoining, he shares his thoughts: “My working assumption is that they will leave, at the latest on the 31st October. It may be that in some years from now they will reconsider their decision, but that’s not my working assumption.”