THE candidate vying to take the European Union’s top job in the face of stiff opposition from David Cameron has vowed he will not be forced on to his knees to secure British support.
As his bid to become president of the European Commission comes under intense pressure, Jean-Claude Juncker told allies it would be wrong to “give in” to the UK’s demands and lashed out at the tactics of the press.
The former prime minister of Luxembourg reportedly launched his attack at a private meeting of the European People’s Party (EPP) bloc, the centre-right group that gained the most seats in last month’s EU elections and includes Angela Merkel’s party.
Mr Cameron is vehemently opposed to the candidacy and is said to have warned European leaders last week that Britain could leave the EU if the arch-federalist succeeded.
According to the Guardian, Mr Juncker, who earlier this week insisted he is “more confident than ever” of landing the job, told the EPP: “It is wrong if we give in to the British here.
“I will not be forced to get on my knees before the British.”
He added: “What bothers me is the gathering British press campaign. The tabloid press has occupied my house, photographers are harassing my neighbours, they are asking neighbours about family stories.
“You had better be ready for a lot more dirt.”
The Prime Minister and the German chancellor, who have been at loggerheads over the appointment, held talks over the fraught issue on the fringes of the G7 summit to try to find a way forward.
Mrs Merkel has publicly backed Mr Juncker to succeed Jose Manuel Barroso but unconfirmed reports earlier this week suggested she had privately raised with French president Francois Hollande the possibility that he might put IMF chief Christine Lagarde’s name forward.