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Europe not seeking to influence UK election, says Brussels parliament chief


Theresa May makes a statement in Downing Street

Theresa May makes a statement in Downing Street

Theresa May makes a statement in Downing Street

The PM has accused European politicians and officials of attempting to influence the outcome of the General Election.

The president of the European Parliament has rejected Theresa May’s claim that Brussels is seeking to influence the results of the UK General Election.

Antonio Tajani’s denial came after a spokesman for European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker dismissed the allegation by saying his office was “too busy” to meddle in the election.

The remarks came after the Prime Minister’s dramatic Downing Street statement on Wednesday, in which she accused unnamed “European politicians and officials” of issuing threats deliberately timed to affect the June 8 vote.

Speaking at a Brussels press conference, Mr Tajani said: “We are not seeking to influence the result in the UK.”

The European Parliament leader, who visited Mrs May in Number 10 last month, said Brussels saw Britain’s snap election as “a positive development for them and for us, because this will mean there is stability in the UK”.

Mr Tajani, speaking at the launch of a new EU history museum featuring mementos of the Brexit referendum campaign, went on: “It is better to have an interlocutor who is not constantly looking for votes because they have had the election, in order to work towards a good solution…

“If you have an election campaign, the rhetoric gets sharper and more robust. I don’t think there is any question of influencing the campaign.”

Earlier, Mr Juncker’s spokesman, Margaritis Schinas, brushed off Mrs May’s comments, telling reporters: “We are not naive, we know that there is an election taking place in the United Kingdom. People get excited whenever we have elections.

“This election in the United Kingdom is mainly about Brexit. But we here in Brussels, we are very busy, rather busy, with our policy work.

“We have too much to do on our plate. So, in a nutshell, we are very busy. And we will not Brexitise our work. To put it in the words of an EU diplomat, the 30-minute slot that we are going to devote to Brexit per week, for this week it’s up.”

Pressed on whether Mrs May was right to claim that EU figures were using “threats” to influence the election, Mr Schinas said: “I said that we are not naive and we know that it is time that elections happen.

“People get excited over elections, it’s normal, so things are said.

“We don’t Brexitise our very important policy work. We are too busy now to engage in these comments on who said this or that.”

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