Theresa May has been caught having a run-in on camera with the President of the European Commission after she mistakenly thought he had called her “nebulous”.
The British Prime Minister was in Brussels for the second time this week, meeting European leaders in another bid to gain concessions on the Brexit deal that nearly cost her the top job on Wednesday.
A pool camera was filming Mrs May as she confronted Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday morning over comments he had made at midnight after a summit dinner on Thursday, with the European Commission President complaining the UK’s position on Brexit was “nebulous and imprecise”.
Sound was not captured by the pool camera, but two lip readers employed by British television’s Channel 5 News say Mrs May repeatedly accuses Mr Juncker of the slur while he continually denies it.
Watch the video here:
When quizzed about the incident at a press conference on Friday afternoon, Mrs May dismissed the face-off as “a robust discussion”.
“I think that’s the sort of discussion you’re able to have when you’ve developed a working relationship and you work well together,” Mrs May said in a press conference on Friday afternoon.
“What came out of that was his clarity that actually, he’d been talking — when he used that particular phrase — he’d been talking about the general level of debate.”
Mr Juncker admitted the pair exchanged firm words saying, “We were not dancing”, but moved to hose down the supposed conflict, inferring he and Mrs May had kissed and made up.
“I did not refer to her but the overall state of the debate in Britain,” Mr Juncker said.
“After having checked what I said last night she was kissing me.”
The UK press seemed to enjoy the actions of the oft-maligned PM, with tabloid newspaper The Sun saying she was giving Mr Juncker “an earful”, while the Daily Mail compared her actions to those of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher when she “handbagged” EU leaders in 1984.
While Mrs May seems to be winning fans over the incident, she is still struggling to make headway with EU leaders on her Brexit deal.
She said there is still work to be done and said her discussions have shown “further clarification and discussion is in fact possible”.
Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn has described the deal as “dead in the water” and said Mrs May “utterly failed in her attempts to deliver any meaningful changes”.