The European Commission chief has said he regrets not intervening in Britain’s 2016 EU referendum, claiming Brussels could have ‘destroyed the lies’ which supposedly led to Brexit.

Speaking in the Belgian capital on Monday, Jean-Claude Juncker said that the UK’s then Prime Minister David Cameron was wrong to have warned Eurocrats against meddling in the EU referendum campaign.

“It was a mistake [for Brussels] not to intervene and not to interfere, because we would have been the only ones to destroy the lies that were circulated round,” he told a news conference, adding: “I was wrong to be silent at an important moment.”

Cameron’s caution to Juncker and his fellow Commission members during the 2016 campaign came following the largely unimpressed reactions that greeted the then US President Barack Obama’s stepping in to warn that voting for Brexit would send Britain to the “back of the queue” regarding a trade deal. It was later revealed that Obama’s intervention in the Brexit debate was at the express request of Prime Minister Cameron, but was considered to have backfired as British voters objected to being lectured to by a foreign leader.

Juncker, who will be replaced as leader of the EU executive in October, struck a much more neutral tone than have other Eurocrats in recent monthswhen asked about whether he would like to see Brexit cancelled.

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