Juncker denies making disparaging comments about May after Brussels dinner

The European Commission president has denied leaking a disparaging account of a dinner to discuss Brexit with Theresa May.

Jean-Claude Juncker insisted he was shocked to see reports in the German press claiming he had told colleagues the Prime Minister seemed "anxious" and had "begged for help".

Dismissing the reports, the EU chief said Mrs May had been in good shape when they dined together in Brussels last Monday and she was not tired.

Asked if he had told the German press what happened at the meeting, Mr Juncker told the BBC:

"No, never. I am really surprised - if not shocked - about what has been written in the German press and, of course, repeated by the British press.

"Nothing is true in all of this. I had an excellent working dinner with Theresa May. She was in good shape, she was not tired, she was fighting as is her duty, so everything for me was OK."

Asked if that meant she had not pleaded with him, he replied: "No, that's not the style of British prime ministers."

A report in German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) claimed Mrs May had seemed "tormented" as well as "despondent and discouraged" during the encounter with Mr Juncker.

The UK PM's former chief of staff, Nick Timothy, claimed one of the Mr Juncker's senior aides, Martin Selmayr, was behind the leak.

Earlier this year, Mr Selmayr was accused of leaking to FAZ details of a private dinner between Mrs May and Mr Juncker at 10 Downing Street, which the Commission president was said to have left "10 times more sceptical" than when he arrived.

But Mr Selmayr denied the team were behind the latest leak and said Mr Juncker had never made the comments contained in the article. He claimed it was an attempt to "frame" the EU and undermine the talks.

After the Brussels dinner, a joint statement was released agreeing to accelerate Brexit talks.

And later in the week, at the European Council summit, EU leaders said they would begin scoping work on future trade talks while making clear to Mrs May that she must make more concessions on Britain's divorce payment for negotiations to progress.

Speaking later at the Institute of Political Studies in Strasbourg, France, Mr Juncker again dismissed the reports, claiming "it's always like that" with the media.

He said: "It was a good meeting. She was neither tired nor beaten. She did her thing, and I did mine too."

"We didn't find an agreement because first you have to resolve the problem concerning British citizens in Europe and continental European citizens in Britain," he added.

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