European and British media were startled this week at a press conference when Donald Tusk made the shocking remarks. When Tusk said that Brexiteers with no plan ‘have a special place in hell’, the room was not only shocked but even Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, realised that Tusk’s remarks would see a fierce backlash. Of all the moments to choose an attack on the Brexiteers, now was certainly not the time. The UK and the EU are at a deadlock, and co-operation is needed from both sides to ensure that the UK leaves peacefully with as little disruption as possible for both sides. Therefore, the last thing to do, with just seven weeks until the 29th March deadline, is to attack the leading figures in the Brexit campaign.
Understandably, the British media were quick in attempting to find a reaction from members of Mrs May’s government and her ministers. It is not surprising to learn that the kindest thing anyone could say was asking why Mr Tusk felt the need to say those words. On BBC’s Politics Live, Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom MP, said that he had “no manners”. Further reaction came from the DUP leader, Arlene Foster MLA, who said that it was an insult to all of those who voted leave. The current tension over the Brexit deal is about the Irish border and just as there was going to be some potential progress, Mr Tusk decided to antagonise the situation.
The House of Commons have recently made it very clear that they do not want to leave the EU with no deal, but more importantly that there is a majority for Theresa May’s deal if the Northern Ireland backstop is removed. Considering it all looked rather doom and gloom in early January, this is significant progress. Mrs May will be, at least before Mr Tusk’s comments, thrilled as her deal has been saved by her own Tory backbenchers. It was a huge decision for many Brexiteers, such as Jacob Rees-Mogg, to support Sir Graham Brady’s amendment because they complained about so many elements of the Withdrawal Agreement. Nevertheless, this is a very positive step and if the backstop is ditched and a better solution is found, we will be leaving the EU on 29th March as planned.
On the other side of the channel, France and other European countries are clearly getting more worried about the prospect of a No deal Brexit. According to research, Ireland’s GDP would have a negative impact of 7%, comparing the UK’s negative impact at 5%, in the 12 months that followed. This is exactly why a no-deal Brexit should remain on the cards, and why Jeremy Corbyn’s pathetic negotiation strategy is too pointless to criticise. The UK is entering a Global Britain and that 5% is merely short-term, whereas Ireland remaining in the same protectionist EU block means long-term decline for their economy.
Regardless of leave or remain, anyone with a brain will know that insulting your negotiating partners is a moronic idea. There is no doubt that Mr Tusk will be regretting his comments; especially when he comes to visit Mrs May in Downing Street. The comments have done nothing but emphasised why the UK voted to leave. The EU have been asking for months what the UK wants to renegotiate. Now they know that the backstop is the issue they should be focusing on resolving – rather than petty little insults.