The appointment of an arch-federalist as the European Commission president risks creating a ‘dramatic’ backlash that will hasten Britain’s exit from the EU, one of the country’s most senior diplomats has warned.
A leaked document said Ivan Rogers, the UK’s permanent representative to the EU, believes the ‘die is cast’ in favour of Jean-Claude Juncker, the former prime minister of Luxembourg.
His proposed elevation to Europe’s top job has been fiercely opposed by David Cameron, who says Britain rejects the founding EU principle of ‘ever closer union’, which Mr Juncker supports.
But during a dinner with Herman van Rompuy, the head of the European Council, Mr Rogers apparently warned that ‘short of a complete U-turn’ by German leader Angela Merkel, Mr Juncker is on course to be appointed.
He said Europe was ‘sleepwalking into an institutional crisis’ and apparently suggested a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, which Mr Cameron has promised by 2017 if he remains in power, could be brought forward.
‘He warned that Mr Juncker’s appointment could accelerate a British referendum on leaving the EU and will completely change the political landscape’, a diplomatic source was quoted as saying.
‘Rogers warned that the appointment could lead to dramatic events in July and that it should be a priority for the EU to avoid such a train crash.’