'Special place in hell’ for Brexiteers without a plan, says EU's Tusk

EU Council President Donald Tusk (right) and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar give statements after a meeting at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on Feb 6, 2019.
EU Council President Donald Tusk (right) and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar give statements after a meeting at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on Feb 6, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) – 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.”

A day before British Prime Minister Theresa May – who is trying to chart a course that satisfies pro- Brexit hardliners in her party – is due in Brussels for talks, Tusk slammed those who made campaign promises that made the divorce seem easy.

“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,” he said at a press conference in Brussels with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. 

It wasn’t a gaffe: He tweeted it too.  

Tusk, a former Polish prime minister who openly regrets Britain’s decision, seemed to be targeting the politicians who led the pro-Brexit campaigns in 2016, such as former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, the ex-leader of the UK Independence Party. 

At the end of the press conference as Tusk and Varadkar shook hands, microphones picked up the Irish premier telling him: “They will give you terrible trouble in the British press for this.” He laughed and nodded. 

It didn’t take long for British and Northern Irish politicians to react to his comments.

“Conciliatory as ever, isn’t he?” Former Brexit Secretary David Davis said with a laugh. 

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. "I think it's a question for Donald Tusk as to whether he considers the use of that kind of language helpful and I appreciate that was difficult this morning since he didn't take any questions," the spokesman told reporters. 

"The first thing Donald Tusk said was our most important task is to prevent a no deal. The deal that was on the table was rejected by 230 votes by MPs (members of Parliament) and so if MPs are to support that... clearly something has got to change."

With less than two months before Britain is scheduled to leave the EU, Tusk, who has an Irish speechwriter, said the priority is now to prevent a no-deal Brexit. He also seemed at last to be coming to terms with Brexit, saying it’s time to acknowledge there’s “no effective leadership for Remain.” 

"The first thing Donald Tusk said was our most important task is to prevent a no deal. The deal that was on the table was rejected by 230 votes by MPs (members of Parliament) and so if MPs are to support that... clearly something has got to change."