Outgoing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has hit out at Boris Johnson’s “lies” over Brexit in a fiery speech in which he blamed the referendum result on media “bulls*t”.
Speaking at a think tank in Brussels, Mr Juncker said he he was “always convinced” that the referendum would be “a negative one”.
He admitted making mistakes – including not speaking out during the campaign at the request of former Prime Minister David Cameron.
“They were saying things, some of them, lying – telling the people things which have nothing to do with our day-by-day reality,” said Mr Juncker, who is due to be replaced by Ursula von der Leyen next Friday.
“David Cameron asked me not to intervene in the referendum campaign because he said the European Commission is even less popular on the islands than on the continent.
“That was a major mistake. I should have intervened because nobody was denying, contesting the lies Boris Johnson and others were spreading around.”
He pulled no punches when he was asked what the Commission had learned from the Brexit crisis, hitting out at the “nonsense” and “bullsh*t” he claimed had been published in newspapers throughout the past 46 years.
“Don’t always give the impression that the Commission is responsible for the result of the referendum,” he said. “It is not. If during 46 years you are told day after day, and if day after day you are reading in your papers that the place of the British is not really in Europe, but that they are there for economic and internal market reasons and all the rest, it’s nonsense, bullsh*t as they are saying in the European Parliament.
“Don’t be surprised then if voters are invited to give their assessment, that some of them – a small majority but nevertheless a clear majority – is voting like a majority of the British sovereign people is voting.”
He told the audience that he was so convinced the result would be for Britain to leave that he had made a bet with a British commissioner – saying he would hand over a euro if Remain won, or would be owed a pound if Leave was successful.
“I have the pound in my pocket”, he said.
Mr Juncker’s speech came just days after he labelled Brexit a “waste of time and energy”, saying: “In truth, it has pained me to spend so much of this mandate dealing with Brexit when I have thought of nothing less than how this Union could do better for its citizens. Waste of time, waste of energy.”