Tusk's 'place in hell' remark for Brexit backers stirs backlash

EU Council President Donald Tusk and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar shake hands as the they give statements after a meeting at the European Council headquarters in Brussels Belgium

EU Council President Donald Tusk and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar shake hands as the they give statements after a meeting at the European Council headquarters in Brussels Belgium

European Council President Donald Tusk did not mince words on Wednesday with regards to Brexit.

Last year, UBS had said in its annual report that it would merge its British entity with the German headquartered European bank in the absence of a transition deal between the EU and Britain prior to the March 29 departure date.

Prime Minister Theresa May is now on a two-day trip to Northern Ireland to try to secure a Brexit deal that avoids a hard border.

Mr Tusk also made clear that he had lost hope that the UK's decision to leave may be reversed in a second referendum due to the "pro-Brexit stance of the UK Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition".

What Juncker was doing as part of his job in Brussels was delivering a joint message to London together with Ireland's Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, saying that the so-called Irish backstop in any Brexit deal won't be renegotiated.

Mr Tusk also had a message for Remain supporters in the United Kingdom, with 50 days to go until Brexit happens, with a deal or without one, saying: "I have always been with you, with all my heart".

He said the comments had backfired on a similar scale to when Barack Obama spoke out against Brexit during the European Union referendum. In an incendiary claim that threatens to blow up Theresa May's hopes of a renegotiation of the Irish border, the EU Council President used a press conference with the Irish premier to say he "wondered" what the place looks like.

Theresa May - who supported the United Kingdom staying in the European Union during the 2016 European Union referendum - is due to arrive in Brussels on Thursday to seek legal changes to the withdrawal deal she signed with the EU.

The "top priority" for the bloc was to "maintain the peace process in accordance with the Good Friday Agreement", Tusk said.

"Ireland will not be the collateral damage of the Tory Brexit", she added.

Labour Party foreign policy spokeswoman Emily Thornberry said such a postponement would allow "time to see whether the negotiations succeed or, if they do not, to pursue a different plan". The EU itself is first and foremost a peace project.

And he demanded that Prime Minister Theresa May bring "realistic suggestions" for how to end the impasse and prevent a no-deal scenario.

May is signaling she will seek changes to the deal rather than the outright removal of the controversial Irish border provision, which has so alarmed many Brexiters in the U.K. Parliament.

As for May, who is to arrive in Brussels for talks on Thursday in an attempt to formulate "alternative arrangements" on the contentious backstop, "she knows that the Commission isn't prepared to reopen the issue", Juncker stressed.

He said that in light of ongoing uncertainty in the UK, EU leaders have agreed that no-deal preparation must continue and intensify.

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