In a soundbite that will reverberate across the news landscape, European Council President Donald Tusk voiced his growing frustration with the leadership void and lack of planning by the pro-Brexit camp that is leading Britain to the March 29 withdrawal date when the United Kingdom will voluntarily leave the European Union, saying, “I’ve been wondering what that special place in hell looks like, for those who promoted Brexit, without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it out safely.”
The EU-27, according to Tusk, decided in December that the Withdrawal Agreement was “not open for renegotiation” and that the EU-27 will make no new offer in the Brexit negotiations.
Tusk did say, however, that the February 7 meeting with May could lead to a constructive discussion on how to move forward with the UK’s withdrawal after May suffered a major legislative defeat in the House of Commons when her withdrawal deal was resoundingly rejected, leaving Britain with the likely prospect of having no agreement in place that will act as a framework for its future relationship with Brussels post-Brexit.
“I hope that tomorrow we will hear from Prime Minister May a realistic suggestion on how to end the impasse in which the process of the orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU has found itself following the latest votes in the House of Commons.”
Tusk said the contentious issue over the future of the Irish border issue and the need to preserve the peace process in Northern Ireland remained the EU’s “top priority” and adding that the EU “will not gamble with peace or put a sell-by date on reconciliation. This is why we insist on the backstop”, before adding that he wants from the British government a “deliverable guarantee for peace in Northern Ireland” that would allow for the UK to “leave the EU as a trusted friend”.
Ireland’s head of state, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who was on hand for Tusk’s harsh criticism of the pro-Brexit supporters reiterated that while the EU is open to further discussions with the UK, the Withdrawal Agreement was negotiated over many months and is the best deal possible for both sides. Varadkar was also quick to emphasise that the EU-27 is already preparing for the likely prospect that the United Kingdom will leave the bloc without a deal in place.
Tusk did not reserve his harsh criticism solely for the leadership of the Brexit crowd, but also took aim at Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, claiming the Remain movement was equally as impotent as their pro-Brexit rivals due to a lack of leadership.
“Today there is no political force and no effective leadership for remain,” said Tusk while speaking to journalists.