Over the weekend, Theresa May fell prey to a rather brutal Brussels briefing when details of the Prime Minister’s ‘disastrous’ Brexit dinner with Jean-Claude Juncker found their way into a German newspaper. With the Prime Minister accused of ‘living in another galaxy’ and lacking a clue when it comes to the Brexit negotiations, one could be forgiven for thinking she would want to try and downplay reports of a frosty relationship with the European Commission president.
Instead, May has used an interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg to double down on the claims. Asked about the reports, May made no apologies as she explained that she was a difficult woman to get on with — and a proud one at that. Referencing the term Ken Clarke used to describe her, May said that it was about time Juncker learnt that she was a ‘bloody difficult woman’:
TM: Now during the Conservative Party leadership campaign I was described by one of my colleagues as a bloody difficult woman. And I said at the time the next person to find that out will be Jean-Claude Juncker.
LK: And did he over the weekend?
TM: Well these are going to be tough negotiations as we as we go ahead. I’m asking the British people to give me a mandate to go into those negotiations. Every vote for me and my team is a vote to strengthen our hand in ensuring that we get the best possible deal for the United Kingdom.
May went on to say that she did not ‘recall’ a lot of the account that has been given of the meeting — putting it down to Brussels gossip. But her message was clear:
‘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?’
Although the briefing seems as though it was intended to hurt May, it could actually play into the Prime Minister’s hands. If the negotiations really are going to be this nasty, complicated and hard-going, who do you want representing Britain: Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn?