JEAN-CLAUDE Juncker’s Brexit-hating former deputy is reportedly seeking to become the EU’s next Brexit negotiator - and could use the position to strong-arm the UK in trade talks.
Sources in Brussels say Martin Selmayr is positioning himself to succeed Michel Barnier, The Sun reports. As Secretary-General of the European Commission, Mr Selmayr currently serves as the EU’s top civil servant and is responsible for no deal planning. But he would reportedly “go hard” on Britain in trade talks if he took over from Mr Barnier in a bid to cement his position as a key player in Brussels.
However the Commission has vehemently denied the rumours, which are said to be widely circulating in the Belgian capital, and insisted Mr Selmayr has no interest in taking on the role.
The 48-year-old German lawyer has previously branded Britain’s decision to leave the EU as “stupid” and sparked outrage earlier this year when his promotion to one of the EU’s top jobs was fast-tracked by his pal Jean-Claude Juncker.
He had previously served as Mr Juncker’s chief of staff - a role in which he earned the nickname “the monster” for his fearsome reputation as the Commission boss’s enforcer.
A subsequent investigation into the circumstances surrounding his promotion concluded his sudden jump from his job with Mr Juncker to the EU’s chief civil servant had “stretched and possibly even overstretched the limits of the law”.
And although the findings of the probe had no effect on his job, Brussels insiders say he is likely to be forced out of the role when Mr Juncker retires next November.
The Sun reported an EU source as saying: "Selmayr wants to send Barnier off into the horizon and leave it open who will head up trade negotiations with the UK.