Published: Wed, February 06, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Donald Tusk: 'special place in hell' for Brexiteers who had no plan

Donald Tusk: 'special place in hell' for Brexiteers who had no plan

European Union President Donald Tusk on Wednesday (Feb 6) took a swipe at British politicians who campaigned for Brexit without an idea of how to make it happen "safely".

May is signaling she will seek changes to the deal rather than outright removal of the so-called backstop, created to preserve the open border between Northern Ireland and European Union member state Ireland.

During a joint press conference on Wednesday alongside Irish premier, Leo Varadkar, Mr Tusk said: "I've been wondering what that special place in hell looks like".

The latest interventions pile pressure on May, who is due in Brussels on Thursday to meet Tusk and the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker. Straight afterwards, he tweeted the same line.

But he added: "A sense of responsibility also tells us to prepare for a possible fiasco".

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

Speaking in Brussels Tusk issued a brief statement subbing the removal of the backstop from the agreement, the failsafe to prevent a hard border in Ireland.

Responding to his remarks, May's spokesman said it was a question for Tusk to answer whether his choice of language about Brexit supporters was helpful.

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

"We will not gamble with peace or put a sell-by date on reconciliation".

"I think the events in London and the instability in British politics in recent weeks demonstrates exactly why we need a legal guarantee and a solution that is operable, that we know will work and will last".

The Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which has propped up May's government since she lost her parliamentary majority in a 2017 snap election, said it wanted to get a deal agreed but the border backstop had to be replaced.

As a way to prevent a hard border, Brussels and London agreed a so-called backstop - basically a promise that unless the sides come up with a better idea then the United Kingdom would remain bound by European Union market and customs rules so that goods would not have to be checked.

May's spokesman stressed that she wasn't coming to Brussels to ask for more time and remained determined to deliver a Brexit deal before the March 29 deadline.

At meetings in Belfast, 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.

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