PM 'should send woman for EU role'

Salisbury Journal: David Cameron (left) is said to have offended Luxembourg over his opposition to Jean-Claude Juncker David Cameron (left) is said to have offended Luxembourg over his opposition to Jean-Claude Juncker

David Cameron offended the whole of Luxembourg with his bid to stop the country's European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker taking up his post, a former EU commissioner has said.

Viviane Reding, now an MEP, scolded the Prime Minister for "playing the man and not the ball" in his opposition to Mr Juncker's presidency bid and said Mr Cameron could not be a team player by "sitting on the bench".

Mr Cameron publicly opposed the Luxembourger's selection as president, even forcing a rare European Council vote over it, which he lost 26-2.

Ms Reding, also a Luxembourger, urged the PM not to nominate a Eurosceptic as Britain's European Commissioner and said there was a "good argument" for sending a strong woman.

Speculation has been rife over who will get the nomination for Britain with reports suggesting early frontrunner Andrew Lansley has fallen out of favour, with Eurosceptic former Tory leader Lord Howard being mentioned in some dispatches.

Reports have indicated that Britain will seek an economic role in Mr Juncker's commission but Ms Reding warned Mr Cameron that his opposition to Mr Juncker might hinder his chances to get the role he wants.

Asked on Sky News's Murnaghan programme about Mr Cameron's opposition to Mr Juncker, Ms Reding said: "I think the whole Luxembourgian country and all its population was offended because that was clearly playing the man and not playing the ball and we did not appreciate all the negative sounds which came out of Great Britain."

Ms Reding would not be drawn into specifics on whether the PM's stance on Mr Juncker may affect his efforts to get Britain a strong role in the commission, saying: "I can tell you that politically speaking if you want to be a strong team player then you do not decide to sit on the bench."

But she urged Mr Cameron to send a woman rather than a Eurosceptic to Brussels.

Ms Reding said: "It (sending a Eurosceptic) will be an absolutely bad move from the British point of view because simply if you want to construct something together with 27 other nations you cannot send somebody who wants to destruct the whole building which has been built during the last decades.

"(Sending a woman) certainly would help because I think that there are not enough women candidates and no government, no European government, can be built in this type of world without enough female talent on board.

"So it will be a good argument to send a strong female politician to be part of the team of Jean-Claude Juncker."

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