In a statement unlikely to help resolve Britain’s fractions exit from the EU, European Council President Donald Tusk says those who promoted a no-deal Brexit deserve a “special place in hell”.
The UK is on course to leave the European Union on March 29 without a deal unless Prime Minister Theresa May can convince the bloc to reopen the divorce deal she agreed in November and then sell it to sceptical British MPs.
As companies and governments across Europe step up preparations for the turmoil of a no-deal exit, diplomats and officials said the UK now faces three main options: a no-deal exit, a last-minute deal or a delay to Brexit.
Rebuffing Ms May’s bid to renegotiate just a day before she is due in Brussels, Mr Tusk said he wished the UK would reverse Brexit but that the bloc was preparing for a disorderly British exit as it would not gamble on peace in Ireland.
He said he no longer believed there was a way to stop Britain leaving due to the “pro-Brexit stance” of both the prime minister and the leader of the opposition.
“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 at a joint news conference with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Wednesday.
At the conclusion of their media conference, Mr Varadkar could be heard on microphones telling Mr Tusk: “They’ll give you terrible trouble in the British press for that.”
Mr Tusk nodded at the comment and both men laughed.
Pro Brexit British MPs reacted with anger to the comments, accusing Mr Tusk of “arrogance”, while Prime Minister Theresa May’s office questioned Mr Tusk’s use of language.
“We had a robust and lively referendum campaign in this country. In what was the largest democratic exercise in our history people voted to leave the EU,” the Prime Minister’s spokesman said in a statement
The PM’s rebuff was followed immediately by Mr Tusk repeating his comments on Twitter.
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.
— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) February 6, 2019
Brexiteer Nigel Farage responded to Mr Tusk quickly.
“After Brexit we will be free of unelected, arrogant bullies like you – sounds like heaven to me,” he said.
Mr Varadkar said the Brexit deal, which was rejected by the UK Parliament, was “the best possible”.
He said Britain’s political instability was another proof of why the backstop was needed.
At meetings in Belfast, Ms May tried to tackle the biggest obstacle to getting a deal ratified by the British parliament – an insurance policy covering the possible future arrangements for the border between EU-member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland.
Ms May said she would seek an alternative arrangement which avoids the need for a hard border or legally binding changes to the border backstop to introduce a time limit or create an exit mechanism.