Caught on tape: In four-letter words, what senior EU politicians think of David Cameron

Astonishing attack comes as Prime Minister faces embarrassing defeat in attempt to stop Jean-Claude Juncker becoming next European Commission president

David Cameron’s strategy on Europe was in disarray tonight as a leading politician in Poland, an ally of Britain, was secretly taped during an expletive-laden outburst accusing him of “incompetence” and appeasing Eurosceptics with “stupid propaganda”.

The astonishing attack emerged as Mr Cameron faced an embarrassing defeat in his lonely attempt to stop the veteran federalist Jean-Claude Juncker being chosen as the next president of the European Commission at a summit of EU leaders on Friday. The Prime Minister will warn them that Mr Juncker’s appointment would increase the chances of Britain voting to leave the EU in the 2017 in/out referendum he has promised.

Amid dismay in European capitals at Mr Cameron’s negotiating tactics, the Prime Minister looks set to be deserted by Germany, Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands, with which he hoped to gather enough votes to block Mr Juncker, the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg.

Mr Cameron can be sure of the backing of only one country – Hungary.

“He has lost a lot of friends and goodwill by being so bullish,” one Brussels insider said.

Downing Street talks between Mr Cameron and Herman Van Rompuy, who will chair the summit as President of the European Council, ended without agreement yesterday. No 10 described the meeting as “full and frank” – diplomatic code for a row.

Mr Cameron told Mr Van Rompuy he would go down fighting by forcing a vote at the summit, breaking with the tradition that the top Brussels job is decided by consensus.

A vote would force other leaders to say why they believe Mr Juncker is the right man for the job, flushing out what Britain claims are their private doubts about Mr Juncker.

Explosive leaks of what Polish politicians really think about Mr Cameron emerged when secretly taped recordings of their conversations this spring were passed to the Polish magazine Wprost.

Jacek Rostowski, Poland’s former Finance Minister, said: “[Cameron] thinks he’ll go renegotiate [EU rules on freedom of movement] and come back, no Polish government could agree to it. Except in return for a mountain of gold.”

Radoslaw Sikorski, the current Polish Foreign Minister, replied: “It’s either a very badly thought through move, or, not for the first time a kind of incompetence in European affairs. Remember? He f****d up the fiscal pact [which Mr Cameron vetoed in 2011 but failed to stop]. He f****d it up. Simple as that.

“He is not interested, he does not get it, he believes in the stupid propaganda, he stupidly tries to play the system... his whole strategy of feeding [his Eurosceptic critics] scraps in order to satisfy them is just as I predicted, turning against him; he should have said, ‘f*** off’, tried to convince people and isolate [the sceptics]. But he ceded the field to those that are now embarrassing him.”

Mr Sikorski, a contemporary of Mr Cameron at Oxford University and member of the hell-raising Bullingdon Club at the same time as Boris Johnson, added: “They’ve f****d up Eastern Europe and a few other things. ‘If Europe doesn’t reform, it’ll end badly!’ Let them worry about their economy. If they don’t reorganise themselves, they’ll have as bad an economy as Germany.”

Mr Rostowski, another Anglophile, said the impact of Britain leaving the EU “will generally be bad for us, because we would like for Great Britain to stay. I think it’ll be the case that [Mr Cameron] will lose the elections. Great Britain will leave. Once they do, they’ll keep open borders. Not for [gypsy] beggars.”

Mr Cameron’s clampdown on “benefit tourism” by EU migrants in Britain played badly in Poland.

Pawel Gras, then media spokesman for Donald Tusk, the Prime Minister, said this was “thoughtless, probably suggested by [some spin doctor], probably came from some focus group, he didn’t think through the consequences, the whole thing was stupid, Donald [Tusk] called him at once to discuss it, he had such a go at him [Mr Cameron], I mean, f***, it’s a shame we didn’t record it, he had a such a proper f****** go at him”.

Responding to the leaks, Downing Street said: “The Prime Minister has been very clear that support for the EU in the UK is wafer thin. There is real disillusionment amongst British voters about the EU.

“Clearly abuse of the right to free movement is one of those issues where people have concerns and where we think it is absolutely right to have a discussion and look at what can be done.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'