Monday, 16 September 2019

‘Special place in Hell’ for Brexiteers: EU leader

Donald Tusk – AFP

PARIS: European Union leader Donald Tusk on Wednesday condemned those calling for Brexit with no idea how to carry it out, saying he hopes Theresa May now has a “realistic” plan.

The British prime minister is due in Brussels on Thursday to discuss ways to ensure Britain’s orderly withdrawal from the EU and avoid what Tusk warned would be a “fiasco.”

But Tusk, standing by Irish leader Leo Varadkar, warned once again that the divorce deal May agreed last year but failed to sell to her parliament will not be reopened.

Neither will the deal’s “backstop” that ensures an open Irish border, he said, damning the British eurosceptics pushing for an abrupt “no deal” departure.

“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,” Tusk said.

Ireland’s Varadkar met Tusk, who represents EU member states as president of the European Council, before talks with EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

Both top EU officials are due to host May on Thursday, but few in Brussels expect her to come with an acceptable offer to revive the deal, 50 days from Brexit.

“Today our most important task is to prevent a no deal scenario,” Tusk said, stressing that the EU “is not making any new offer” and the deal is “not open for renegotiation.”

Offering warm support for his guest, Tusk said the European Union “will not gamble with peace” on the Irish border by removing the backstop from the deal.

“I hope that tomorrow we will hear from Prime Minister May a realistic suggestion on how to end the impasse,” he said.

And Tusk added: “A sense of responsibility also tells us to prepare for a possible fiasco.”

Varadkar, whose government has stressed the importance of maintaining an open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit, thanked Tusk.

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