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What the papers say: Europe’s leaders must wake up to Juncker’s games

30 August 2017

8:46 AM

30 August 2017

8:46 AM

Jean-Claude Juncker is a ‘preposterous oaf’, according to the Sun. The paper says that, particularly on this side of the Channel, people shouldn’t care much about what he thinks. Yet ‘diehard Remainers’ continue to treat his word as gospel and ‘seize on Juncker’s every self-serving snippet as “evidence” of our Government’s failings’. Yes, there are some ‘reservations’ with how ministers are dealing with Brexit. But the papers published this month on Brexit by the Government actually look ‘eminently reasonable’ – a stark contrast from the ‘childish, posturing amateurs in Brussels’.

Juncker isn’t the only one to have criticised the British government’s attitude towards Brexit in the last few days. The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier also joined in, telling the UK to ‘start behaving “seriously”’. ‘Who do they think they are?’, asks the Telegraph. The paper is slightly kinder than the Sun, calling the pair ‘two unelected apparatchiks’, who, it says, show just why so many are turning against the EU. Of course, any negotiation is going to have its flashpoints, points out the Telegraph. But let’s not forget that under the EU’s own Lisbon Treaty, Britain is perfectly entitled to head for the exit if it wants to. The European Commission, wielding its ‘negotiating mandate’, appears to have forgotten this point, and is instead intent upon trying to ‘punish Britain’. It’s time for Europe’s leaders – particularly Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel – to wake up to the fact that Barnier and Juncker ‘could cause irreparable diplomatic damage unless they are brought to heel.’.

But let’s not forget, says the Times, that there is ‘more to life than Brexit’. To prove the point, North Korea has handed Japan’s PM ‘a serious security headache’ as Theresa May touches down in Tokyo. May wanted to use the trip to talk about Britain’s departure from the EU, and the possibility of opening up new trade deals with Japan. Shinzo Abe, however, ‘has other things on his mind’ and ‘Mr Abe deserves Mrs May’s support’, says the Times. While the PM might want to talk nothing other than trade, she will have to accept she’ll need to wait. If the PM ‘hopes for the promise of a bilateral post-Brexit deal this week of all weeks’, she will head home disappointed, the paper says.

The FT says that Theresa May’s trip to Japan this week will serve as a ‘lesson in the reality of post-Brexit Britain’. Japanese officials have made it clear that a trade deal with the EU – rather than the UK – has priority. Even when that ongoing deal with the EU is wrapped up though, the paper points out, ‘it will be hard’ for the likes of Japan to talk trade for as long as the UK’s trading relationship with the EU is in doubt. Yes, Brexit does present the chance for the UK to thrash out its own deals with other countries around the world. Indeed, this ‘is one of the most exciting freedoms the UK will gain’, says the paper. But because our economy ‘will inevitably be dominated by its huge near-neighbour’, our ongoing trading relationship with Europe still needs to be worked out first, says the FT.

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