Jean-Claude Juncker labelled a ‘poundshop Bismarck’ over Brexit divorce bill demands

Jean-Claude Juncker has been labelled a “poundshop Bismarck” after he criticised Britain’s Brexit negotiating position and demanded the UK commit to paying a divorce bill.

The president of the European Commission warned there will be no discussions on a new trade deal between the EU and UK until progress is made on the so-called Brexit bill and other key issues.

But Jacob Rees-Mogg, a leading Tory Brexiteer, said Mr Juncker was trying to “extort” money from the UK as he compared him unfavourably to Otto von Bismarck, a giant of European politics in the 19th Century who is widely viewed as the architect of a united Germany.

Mr Rees-Mogg told The Sun: “Mr Juncker’s effort to extort money from us shows he is an amateur even at blackmail.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Tory MP and leading Eurosceptic CREDIT: JONATHAN BRADY/PA

He added: “Mr Juncker is a pound shop Bismarck, arrogant and bullying but without the charm.”

Mr Juncker told EU ambassadors in a speech on Tuesday that he did not believe any of Britain’s Brexit negotiating papers were “satisfactory”.

Meanwhile, he said that there remained an “enormous amount of issues that need to be settled”.

He warned that there would be no discussions on the UK and EU’s future trading arrangements until sufficient progress has been made on the Brexit bill, the Irish border and and citizens’ rights.

“We need to be crystal clear that we will commence no negotiations on the new economic and trade relationship between the UK and the EU before all these questions are resolved,” he said.

Mr Juncker said there was a need to “settle the past before we look forward to the future”.

His comments highlighted the apparent size of the gap between the UK and the EU as the latest round of negotiations continue in Brussels this week with the Brexit bill having emerged as a key sticking point.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, used a joint press conference with David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, on Monday to criticise Britain for its “ambiguity” on the issue.

The Government has not formally commented on the potential size of any bill it could be willing to pay and wants the EU to spell out the legal basis on which it is basing its calculations.

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