EU's Jean-Claude Juncker: I Bet on Brexit in EU Referendum

Juncker and Farage
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Nigel Farage at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, June 28. Juncker has revealed he put a bet on Brexit. Eric Vidal/Reuters

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker bet on Brexit as the outcome of the U.K.'s EU referendum—and the U.K.'s outgoing commissioner owes him the money.

Juncker made the admission in a joint interview with European Parliament President Martin Schulz published in Germany's Spiegel magazine.

"I put my money on Brexit," Juncker said, "The EU Financial Stability Commissioner, Jonathan Hill from Britain, still owes me a pound."

Elsewhere in the interview, Schulz and Juncker reject the argument that they and other Brussels officials should shoulder some of the responsibility for Britain's departure.

"Primary responsibility for Brexit lies with British conservatives, who took an entire continent hostage," said Schulz. "First, David Cameron initiated the referendum in order to secure his post. Now, fellow conservatives want to delay the start of exit negotiations until they've held a party conference."

"In the end, the British didn't vote to leave because of the euro. They're not even members of the currency union," Juncker said. "Even the refugee crisis hardly affected the country. I have another explanation: In its 43 years of EU membership, Britain has never been able to decide whether it wants to fully or only partially belong to the EU."

Schulz also admitted that sometimes goings-on in Brussels can seem to take place on "another planet" from national politics within member states.

"For many people, politics in Brussels and Strasbourg might as well be happening on another planet," Schulz said.

"Just come to Brussels after a Council meeting...Every head of government holds his or her own press conference. They all say the same thing, in 24 languages: I was able to push through my agenda. And if the result is anything other than what they desired, the message is: Brussels is to blame," he added.