Thursday, 26 May 2016
A tweet made by Jean-Claude Juncker’s Head of Cabinet Martin Selmayr in which he compares former London Mayor Boris Johnson to the President of the National Front, Marine Le Pen and to Republican candidate to United States presidency Donald Trump, provoked several questions for the Spokespersons of the European Commission. Martin Selmayr, who accompanied the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, at the G7 Summit in Japan, tweeted, “G7 2017 with Trump, Le Pen, Boris Johnson, Beppe Grillo? A horrific scenario which shows that it is worthwhile to combat populism #withJuncker”.
Several journalists, particularly from Britain and Italy, called out to the Spokespersons of the Commission on Thursday during the daily press briefing. They wished to know whether the President of the Commission shared the point of view of his Head of Cabinet.
The Commission’s Spokesperson Alexander Winterstein responded by recalling the official position of Mr. Juncker on populism. “He has said on several occasions that populists make the right questions but do not provide the right answers”, he pointed out.
Martin Selmayr’s tweet could be considered meddling in the present Brexit debate, regarding which the Commission does not wish to take a position. Boris Johnson, former Conservative Mayor of London, took the lead of the “Leave” camp in opposition to Prime Minister David Cameron, who defends staying within the EU.
An Italian journalist also protested against the comparison made between Mrs. Le Pen and Beppe Grillo, Italian humorist and founder of the Five Star Movement, a political movement emerging from the divide between left and right.