Brexit: Dinner leaks, Twitter spats and a plea for certainty | News | DW | 23.10.2017
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Brexit: Dinner leaks, Twitter spats and a plea for certainty

As aides and reporters battled on Twitter over leaks from a Brexit dinner between UK Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU's Jean-Claude Juncker, British business lobbies called on their government to provide clarity.

The European Commission on Monday denied an account of a Brussels dinner last week during which May and Juncker discussed Brexit negotiations.

Juncker's head of cabinet, German lawyer Martin Selmayr, took to Twitter to deny the leaking of the details which were published in Germany's Frankfurt Allgemeine (FAZ) newspaper.

According to the FAZ, May was "begging for help" from Juncker, who described her to colleagues as being anxious, despondent and discouraged.

Read more: Brexit diary 11: Brexit body language

"It's an attempt to frame the EU side and to undermine talks," Selmayr said of the leaked report controversy.

Selmayr was responding to an allegation from May's former chief-of-staff, Nick Timothy, also via Twitter, that he was behind the leak.  

European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas repeated the denial.

"We have lots of work and no time for gossip," he said.

He declined to say who might wish the Commission ill but added that Juncker would "never have said something like this."

Earlier this year similar reports concerning a Downing Street dinner emerged in the same German newspaper.

Slow progress on Brexit talks has stoked fears the UK could leave the EU in March 2019 without a deal in place.
 

EU leaders agreed on Friday to include the bloc's future relationship with Britain in negotiations among themselves over the coming months.

Businesses: We have to plan

As officials bickered via social media, UK business leaders were preparing to call for reassurance.

In a draft letter to Brexit Secretary David Davis, five leading business groups called for the economic relationship between Britain and the bloc to be "as close as possible to the status quo" during a two-year transition period for the country's move out of the EU.

Read more: Brexit: What's the 'no deal' fallout for the UK and EU?

"Agreement (on a transition) is needed as soon as possible, as companies are preparing to make serious decisions at the start of 2018, which will have consequences for jobs and investment in the UK," said the letter from the Confederation of British Industry, the British Chambers of Commerce, manufacturing trade body EEF, the Institute of Directors and the Federation of Small Businesses.

se/kms (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)

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