With trade talks continuing, Mr Juncker claimed Mr Johnson is “purposefully” pushing for a no deal Brexit. Now replaced by Ursula von der Leyen, Mr Juncker added Michel Barnier has now hinted a no deal Brexit is becoming the UK’s preferred choice. In a bombshell interview with Austrian magazine, Profil, the former EU Commission President also insisted he had not been surprised by the initial referendum result.
He said: “My friend Michel Barnier, whom I had made chief negotiator, gives me the impression that the British government is moving very purposefully towards a no-deal.
“It is ultimately a British decision.
“I was not surprised by the result of the referendum.
“I made bets here in the house, for example, with my British Commission colleague.”
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Also within the interview, Mr Juncker said UK officials had only ever been interested in the economic power of the EU’s single market.
He added: “The British, across all parties, Major, Blair, I have seen many, for them the economy was always important.
“The rest was only talked about negatively in the UK. The British were only for the single market.
“They were enthusiastic supporters of the expansion to Eastern and Central Europe – for market reasons.”
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Brexit talks will resume on Tuesday as the two sides attempt to work towards a free trade agreement.
David Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator, will meet his counterpart today before trying to negotiate on the several areas of divergence which still remain.
Although Mr Juncker believes the Prime Minister is pushing for a no deal Brexit, a No 10 spokesman stated the two sides will attempt to engage constructively in talks.
They said: “Our position on our sovereignty, laws and fisheries is clear, we will not give up our rights as an independent state.
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“We will continue to engage constructively with the EU on these key issues and will work hard to reach the broad outline of an agreement, but as we have been clear all along we are not asking for a special, bespoke or unique deal.”
Sovereignty has remained one of the main sticking points so far during talks.
The EU has insisted Britain must adhere to certain rules on the level-playing field.
UK officials have rejected this, stating by doing so it would defeat the purpose of Brexit.
Two other areas, fisheries and the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), have also remained as problematic areas.
In a sign of potential concessions, Mr Barnier declared this month the EU had listened “carefully” on the removal of the ECJ from British judicial matters.
Mr Johnson had declared a deal could be agreed by the end of this month.
Brexit news: Mr Johnson had set this month as a deadline for a deal
EU officials in contrast, have declared October as the deadline to agree a deal before it is then ratified by the 27 member states.
The N0 10 spokesman concluded: “We don’t want talks to drag on into the autumn and want to make progress as quickly as possible in order to give certainty and clarity to business.”
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.