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Watch: Jean-Claude Juncker refuses to renegotiate the backstop

Jean-Claude Juncker’s term as European Commission president may be coming to an end, but it’s clear that the EU leader won’t be hiding his strong opinions about Brexit and the UK negotiating process anytime soon.

At a Politico event held this afternoon, Juncker ruled that he would not renegotiate any part of the Withdrawal Agreement with Theresa May’s successor, telling his interviewer, Florian Eder, that:

‘There will be no longer renegotiations as far as… the Withdrawal Agreement is concerned. We can have some clarifications, precisions, additions to the political declaration concerning the future of our relations.’

Asked if that also meant he would not consider time-limiting the backstop, Juncker simply replied: ‘No’.

Juncker also refused to say whether he believed Britain would ever leave the European Union, and would only remark that his ‘working assumption’ was that the British ‘believe’ we would leave on 1st November. He also reiterated his belief that the European Commission should have interfered in the referendum campaign in 2016.

It’s clear that the Commission president isn’t exactly pleased with the current crop of Tory leadership candidates either. Asked if he had a favourite contender to be the next UK prime minister, Juncker paused (for over nine seconds) before eventually saying: ‘No’.

Mr S wonders if there was a sigh of relief from several leadership candidates here in Westminster. An endorsement from Juncker would, surely, have been the kiss of death for any potential Tory leader.

Watch the full exchange here:

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