European Council President Donald Tusk said on Tuesday that the UK might give up on actually following-through with Brexit and went so far as to urge British politicians to start working towards reversing the process before the latest extension on the withdrawal date expires in October.
“I know that on both sides of the Channel everyone, including myself, is exhausted by Brexit, which is completely understandable. However, this is not an excuse to say: “let’s get it over with”, just because we’re tired,” said Tusk, who added, “At this rather difficult moment in our history, we need dreamers and dreams. We cannot give in to fatalism. At least I will not stop dreaming about a better and united Europe.”
Tusk also brushed aside a plan to treat the UK as an outsider or a second-rate member of the bloc during the extension period.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker insisted that the EU Executive is now on a ‘Brexit break’ after it agreed to give London more time to sort out how it will handle its withdrawal.
Juncker said he doesn’t expect that there will be another delay beyond 31 October, though he admitted that the UK could hypothetically request that Article 50, which gives it the right to quit the EU, be revoked.
“When the UK leaves the EU is in their hands. How they leave was set out back in 2018. That was decided with the British government in November 2018 and it is still valid. There will be no point in time when a renegotiation of the withdrawal agreement will be on the table,” added Juncker
Former Belgian prime minister, Guy Verhofstadt, who is also a Brexit coordinator for the European Parliament warned that a long delay risks ‘killing the EU off’ and claimed that the UK could adversely affect the European elections in May and also offers no time for opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn and UK Prime Minister Theresa May enough time to reach a cross-party deal on Brexit.
“The decision (to extend the Brexit date) could risk killing Europe or at least bog it down for years to come. We need to put all our energy into the reform, the renewal of our European Union. And that spirit was absent from you last week,” said Verhofstadt.