Outrage as Juncker boasts that no-one else will want to leave the EU after they see how badly the UK is punished for Brexit
Eurosceptics have reacted with fury after Jean-Claude Juncker boasted that no-one else will want to leave the EU after they see how harshly Britain is punished.
The European Commission chief crowed that the ‘example’ of the UK would ensure the survival of the Brussels club.
He also threatened that Theresa May will have to accept demands from the EU for a divorce bill.
But his bullish stance was derided by Brexiteers who branded him ‘out of touch’ and accused him of living in a ‘fool’s paradise’.
No 10 played down the intervention, pointing out negotiations were yet to begin.
EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said the ‘example’ of Britain would ensure other countries did not leave the bloc
There May, pictured on a visit to Wales today, has announced she will trigger Article 50 and begin Brexit on March 29
European Council president Donald Tusk has confirmed he will provide an initial response to Article 50 within 48 hours
The combative comments by Mr Junker mark the latest escalation in tensions between Britain and the bloc as the PM prepares to invoke Article 50.
Mrs May announced today that she will take the historic step of triggering the two-year process for breaking away from Brussels next Wednesday.
Mrs May will make a statement to the Commons the same day.
There are fears the looming negotiations could quickly turn nasty – with Downing Street insisting the PM is ready to ‘walk away’ if there is an attempt to punish us for leaving.
Brussels negotiators are preparing to present the UK with a divorce bill of up to £50billion to settle what they regard as our share of liabilities.
Mrs May has made clear she is ready to walk away from Brexit talks if the EU tries to punish the UK for leaving
However, the government is set to take a tough line after receiving advice that there is no legal obligation for us to pay up.
Asked by Bild am Sonntag newspaper whether he was concerned other member states will follow Britain’s example in quitting, Mr Juncker said: ‘No. Britain’s example will make everyone realise that it’s not worth leaving.’
He added: ‘On the contrary, the remaining member states will fall in love with each other again and renew their vows with the European Union.’
Mr Juncker also said Britain would need to get used to being treated as a non-member.
‘Half memberships and cherry-picking aren’t possible. In Europe you eat what’s on the table or you don’t sit at the table,’ he added.
But Tory MP Peter Bone told MailOnline: ‘It is like the dying words of the leader of an empire as it collapses.
‘The trouble is of course the European elite have ignored the wishes of their people for so long.
‘He is out of touch, living in a fool’s paradise. The problem of Brexit is entirely a problem for the EU.’
ARTICLE 50: WHAT HAPPENS NOW
Theresa May’s letter to Donald Tusk next week will start a two-year process to leave the EU.
The Article 50 procedure has never been used – and its author never intended it to be.
It means the precise process, including whether Britain can negotiate its future relationship while agreeing the divorce, is unclear.
Mrs May’s letter could include an outline of Britain’s negotiating position.
Among the first things to happen will be a response from the EU within 48 hours that is expected to set its guidelines for talks.
An initial emergency EU summit is then expected to held within weeks.
After an initial rush, negotiations will be centred on the regular summits every two months, with feverish activity expected behind the scenes.
EU history would suggest a major summit toward the end of the process in which nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.
After the deal is struck, it will still need to be agreed at least by the European Parliament and the Westminster Parliament, and probably in many of the 27 EU nations too.
Mrs May’s official spokesman said: ‘We have said many times we are at the start of the negotiations, and let’s see how it unfolds.’
The EU is holding a summit this week to mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.
Mrs May will not be attending in order to avoid overshadowing the event and aggravating tensions.
The 27 states are expected to declare that ‘Europe is our common future’ in a show of unity.
European Council president Donald Tusk confirmed today that he will issue the club’s initial response to Article 50 within 48 hours of the notification.
Downing Street today played down the prospects of the process running on for longer than two years – which would require unanimous consent from all 27 remaining members.
Asked whether the UK would definitely be out of the bloc by March 29, 2019, the PM’s spokesman said: ‘We have said we expect this to be a two year process.
‘We are confident that is what we will achieve.’
The PM held talks with Welsh leaders today amid a furious battle with Nicola Sturgeon over the Scottish First Minister’s demands for a second independence referendum.
The SNP chief is seeking to exploit the pressures of pushing through Brexit to destroy the union.
Welsh nationalists are also jumping on the bandwagon to demand concessions and new powers from Westminster – although calls for independence have much less support there.
Mrs May vowed: ‘From my first day on the steps of Downing Street, I made clear my determination to strengthen and sustain the precious Union.
‘I have also been clear that as we leave the European Union I will work to deliver a deal that works for the whole of the UK.
Theresa May has chosen March 29 as the day she will trigger Article 50 to start leaving the EU – meaning if all goes to plan it will be the date we finally leave the organisation.
The PM has chosen to wait until after an EU summit to celebrate the Treaty of Rome is held this week in order to avoid inflaming tensions.
There were also concerns that waiting until the very end of her schedule of launching Brexit by the ‘end of March’ could have meant it being reported on April Fool’s Day.
Any date has many historical parallels and March 29 is no exception.
It is the date Coca-Cola was first brewed in a back yard in Atlanta in 1886.
The date was recorded as the bloodiest in England’s history in 1461 with the decisive battle in the Wars of the Roses.
In 1982, it was the day the Canada Act was given Royal Assent – ending any role for the UK Government in the Canadian constitution.
And in an extraordinary coincidence, it is also the birthday of arch Remainer and former Tory Prime Minister Sir John Major. He was born in 1943.
Sir John faced a huge rebellion among MPs over the Maastricht Treaty in the 1990s – notoriously branding restive backbenchers including Iain Duncan Smith ‘b*****ds’.