Germany Says Merkel’s ‘Illusions’ Warning to U.K. Was Unprompted

  • Spokesman denies alleged link to May-Juncker dinner in London
  • German chancellor’s speech draft was already set beforehand

German Chancellor Angela Merkel didn’t need prompting from European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to warn the U.K. against harboring “illusions” in its divorce talks with the European Union, her spokesman said.

Merkel made the comment in a speech to the German parliament on Thursday, the morning after U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and Juncker met at Downing Street to discuss Brexit. German government spokesman Steffen Seibert denied a report by Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that Merkel inserted the “illusions” line after Juncker called her and said he was shocked by the U.K. leadership’s approach to negotiating Brexit.

“All I can say is that the chancellor’s speech was drafted independently of any dinner in London,” Seibert told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday. “It was well-prepared and already finalized the day before.”

The leaked account of the dinner escalated rhetoric on both sides as May seeks re-election on June 8 after a campaign defined by Britain’s exit from the EU. May vowed on Tuesday she wouldn’t be pushed around in the talks, saying that Juncker is learning she can be “bloody difficult.”

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