Tusk: ‘There’s a special place in hell for leading Brexiteers’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with President of the European Council Donald Tusk during a press conference

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with President of the European Council Donald Tusk during a press conference at the European Parliament in Brussels. Photograph: Michelle Devane/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Donald Tusk has lashed out at the politicians who promoted Brexit without any plan for how to deliver it safely.

The president of the European council was speaking alongside the Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar in Brussels when he warned that there was no leadership for the UK remaining in the EU.

He said: 'The facts are unmistakeable. At the moment the pro-Brexit stance of the UK prime minister, and the leader of the opposition, rules out this question.

'Today there is no political force, and no effective leadership, for remain. I say this without satisfaction, but you can't argue with the facts.'

In a message to Theresa May, he said that he would try to help the prime minister, but that the withdrawal agreement was not up for renegotiation.

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'Give us a deliverable guarantee for peace in Northern Ireland and the UK will leave the EU as a trusted friend.

'I hope that the UK government will present ideas that will both respect this point of view and at the same time command a stable and clear majority in the House of Commons.

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'I strongly believe that a common solution is possible and I will do everything in my power to find it.'

Tusk said the Irish border issue and the need to preserve the peace process remained the EU's 'top priority'.

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'The EU is first and foremost a peace project,' he said. 'We will not gamble with peace or put a sell-by date on reconciliation. This is why we insist on the backstop.'

Finally in his closing remarks he hit out at the Brexiteers that helped to cause the Brexit crisis.

He concluded: 'By the way, I have been wondering what that special place in hell looks like for those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan to carry it (through) safely.'

Sinn Fein president Mary McDonald, a member of the European parliament, backed the comments.

'You are not going to convince me that anything Donald Tusk says could further harden the position of the Boris Johnsons' or the Rees-Moggs' of this world,' she said.

'They are people who have acted with absolute contempt for this country, utter disregard for the experiences of Irish people north and south, with utter disregard for the peace process that has been collectively built over decades.

'Their position is the most hardline of hardline, it is their language that is intemperate and it is their position that is untenable.'

The comments are a continued hardening of tone from European leaders. A Swedish minister said she could 'never forgive' the UK for sparking Brexit.

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