Juncker aide accuses May's ex-policy chief of 'false' claims on Brussels dinner

A senior aide to Jean-Claude Juncker has hit back after being accused of leaking sensitive details of a dinner between the Prime Minister and the European Commission chief.

Theresa May's former chief of staff, Nick Timothy, blamed Martin Selmayr for an account of the private meeting published by German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).

But Mr Selmayr, Mr Juncker's chief of staff, accused Mr Timothy of spreading "false" claims and insisted that Brussels did not want to weaken the Prime Minister's position.

In his response to Mr Timothy he suggested there were some people who had an interest in undermining the "constructive" relationship between Mr Juncker and Mrs May.

In the highly personal account of last Monday's dinner, Mrs May was said to have "begged for help", and seemed "anxious" and "tormented" as well as "despondent and discouraged", according to FAZ.

After the 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.

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.

Mr Timothy, who worked for Mrs May at the time of the previous leak, said the new disclosure showed there are figures in Brussels who want Britain to leave the EU with either no deal or on terms which would punish the country for Brexit.

He tweeted: "After constructive Council meeting, Selmayr does this. Reminder that some in Brussels want no deal or a punitive one."

But Mr Selmayr responded with his own tweet: "This is false. I know it does't fit your cliche, @NickJTimothy. But @JunckerEU & I have no interest in weakening PM.

"But it seems some have interest in undermining constructive relations @JunckerEU & PM May. Who? is the real question."

He denied being behind the leak or that Mr Juncker ever made the comments about Mrs May's emotional sate.

He also dismissed the suggestion the EU was being "punitive" and claimed it was an attempt to frame the EU side of the negotiations and "undermine talks".

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