UK & World News

  • 1 June 2014, 22:21

Britain 'Could Quit EU' If Juncker Gets Top Job

David Cameron has reportedly said Britain could quit the EU if Jean-Claude Juncker is elected as president of the European Commission.

The Prime Minister has previously said he sees the former Luxembourg leader as a symbol of Europe's past and argued other leaders are more capable of delivering change.

He is now so worried Mr Juncker's appointment would destabilise the UK Government he would bring forward an in-out referendum, according to German publication Der Spiegel.

"A figure from the 1980s cannot resolve the problems of the next five years," he is reported to have said.

The magazine claimed Mr Cameron made the threat during a meeting with the German Chancellor at a summit of EU leaders in Brussels.

Angela Merkel has given her backing to Mr Juncker, who told Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper he has support from "a broad majority" of conservative and centre-left leaders and is confident of being elected.

Ms Merkel and Mr Juncker's parties both belong to the European People's Party bloc, which dominates the European Parliament and has chosen him as its preferred candidate for the presidential post.

A Downing Street spokesman refused to comment on what Mr Cameron may have said in what it called "a private conversation".

The Prime Minister's alleged warning came as Iain Duncan Smith said Mr Cameron must deliver "substantial and significant return of powers" from the EU to win the backing of Tories.

The Work and Pensions Secretary told The Sunday Telegraph: "He knows very well he can't come back with nothing."

Asked whether Mr Cameron would follow through with his pledge to deliver a referendum if the Tories are re-elected at the next election, Mr Duncan Smith replied: "I've looked him in the eye and I've asked him (that) simple question.

"He said, 'Yeah, I won't be in a Government if they won't have a referendum.'"

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