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During an explosive interview, the former European Commission President insisted he did not defend the EU’s point of view in the UK. He also claimed he was too silent throughout the debate over the UK’s departure from the EU. Former Prime Minister Mr Cameron called the Brexit referendum in 2016 after renegotiating elements of the UK’s membership with the EU. Speaking to The i newspaper, Mr Juncker said: “I should not have listened to David Cameron.
“He told me not to interfere in the debate in the UK, not to come to London, not to do interviews with the British press.
“I made a mistake because I did not defend the EU’s point of view in the UK.
“They asked me to shut up, so I shut up.
“That is something I criticise myself for.
Brexit news: Jean-Claude Juncker has come under attack from former MEP Patrick O’Flynn
Brexit news: Jean-Claude Juncker said he was too silent throughout the debate over the UK’s departure from the EU
“I should have spoken out rather than stay silent.”
But the claims from Mr Juncker have sparked a furious reaction from Patrick O’Flynn, who was an MEP for five years between 2014 and 2019.
Writing for The Daily Telegraph, he said: “In the years since the EU referendum many on the Remain side have ruminated heavily on their defeat, wondering what added ingredient in their campaign could have tipped the balance in their favour.
“Less of a fixation on the negatives of Project Fear has been one suggestion, though it is always pointed out that opinion research in advance of the referendum failed to locate any obvious positive ‘magic bullet’ of EU membership that could have swung the result their way.
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“Funnily enough, nowhere has it been suggested that the missing ingredient was a high-profile UK media campaign by Jean-Claude Juncker, the then president of the European Commission.
“Yet Mr Juncker has just revealed that his decision to accept the advice of Cameron and the British government to stay out of the campaign causes him great regret.
“Cameron instead primed Barack Obama to be the overseas leader anchoring the Remain media grid and the US President duly delivered a pre-scripted missile suggesting that outside the EU, the UK would be at the ‘back of the queue’ for a trade deal with America.
“Despite him being stratospherically popular in Britain, the threat went down like the proverbial lead balloon with the British public, helping rather than hindering us in the Leave campaign.
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“While Mr Juncker should not be under-rated – and is in fact a political operator of some charm and sophistication – the idea that the Remain campaign could have benefited from the Eurocrat-in-chief lecturing Britons on why the EU was a great thing is far-fetched.”
Mr O’Flynn in fact insisted the former EU chief would regularly “deliver weaponry for us Leave campaigners” during his State of the Union speeches in the European Parliament.
The former MEP described Mr Juncker as “one of the original EU idealists” but claimed there was a bigger problem resulting from this that the British people “never bought into”.
He added: “The basic trouble with the idea of Juncker as a potential harvester of pro-EU votes in Britain is not that he would have let the Remain side down by being erratic, but that he would have told the EU’s story too authentically.
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“For all his baggage and his penchant for good living, Juncker is in fact one of the original EU idealists – far more able to communicate a big picture than is his technocrat successor Ursula von der Leyen.
“The big picture is the problem here – the British people never bought into it and over several decades the pro-EU British establishment responded by creating a Big Lie in which power grabs by Brussels were the figments of paranoid Eurosceptic imaginations.
“Once that lie had been exposed, there is nothing much the Remain campaign could have done to change the referendum result.
“Denying the old boy his chance to set out his idealistic case for ‘le grand project’ of European unity no doubt led to a less colourful Remain campaign with more message discipline. But it did not alter the result.”
Amid Mr Cameron’s attempt to change the UK’s membership, Mr Juncker previously claimed the former Prime Minister is one of the great destroyers of modern times.
The former EU chief said: “We were forbidden from being present in any way in the referendum campaign by Mr Cameron, who is one of the great destroyers of modern times.”
Mr Juncker also claimed the UK never felt a part of the bloc, adding: “To tell the truth, the British never felt at ease in the EU.
“When you tell your people for years, decades, ‘Yes, we are part of it, but not really. We are part-time Europeans,’ then you can’t be surprised when you ask their opinion and discover that a small majority of them believe Britain could do better outside the EU.”