European Leaders Stand by Refusal to Cooperate with PM May over Brexit

Britain's Brexiteers with no plan of how to deliver deserve a "special place in hell", the EU's Donald Tusk said, prompting fury among British anti-EU campaigners, one of whom called him an "arrogant bully".

The only Northern Irish party represented in the House of Commons, the Democratic Unionist Party, reiterated its opposition to the backstop, which is created to prevent a post-Brexit hard border on the island of Ireland.

In January, the House of Commons voted against the deal agreed by the European Union and the United Kingdom government and later passed an amendment calling for alternative solutions instead of Irish border backstop clause.

Rubbing salt into the wound, Mr Tusk was then caught on mic chuckling at a press conference when Irish premier Leo Varadkar whispered to him that the British would "give you bad trouble" over the jibe. At the moment, the pro-Brexit stance of the United Kingdom prime minister, and the Leader of the Opposition, rules out this question.

He was speaking at a joint press conference with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Brussels in the past few minutes.

While Tusk was clear the European Union would not reopen the divorce deal, he also said he still believed a common Brexit solution was possible.

"We will not gamble with peace or put a sell-by date on reconciliation, and this is why we insist on the backstop", Tusk said.

The deadline for Brexit is 29 March, 2019.

At meetings in Belfast, Mrs 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.

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.

He said other European Union members had offered "unwavering commitment to protecting hard won peace and stability". "It's a European issue and that's why we cannot accept the idea that the withdrawal agreement could be reopened", Juncker said, adding that the backstop was part of the November agreement.

Pro-Brexit Conservative lawmaker Peter Bone said Tusk's comments were an outrageous insult to the British people. She missed PMQs for the talks, with Cabinet Office minister David Lidington deputising.

The prime minister's official spokesman said: "We had a robust and lively referendum campaign in this country".

"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", McDonald said.

He said the actions of the Prime Minister and the British government outlined the need for the backstop and said Ireland was continuing to ramp up preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

  • Eleanor Harrison