Donald Tusk says he still “dreams” that Brexit will be cancelled
Donald Tusk says he still “dreams” that Brexit will be cancelled.
The European Council president hinted on Tuesday that the UK’s departure from the EU could be delayed further than the agreed October 31 extension - or even reversed.
He said the extension until Halloween meant the UK was likely to hold European elections next month.
"During the European Council one of the leaders warned us not to be dreamers, and that we shouldn't think that Brexit could be reversed," he told MEPs.
"I didn't respond at the time, but today, in front of you, I would like to say: at this rather difficult moment in our history, we need dreamers and dreams.
"We cannot give in to fatalism. At least I will not stop dreaming about a better and united Europe."
Mr Tusk said British MEPs may be members of the European Parliament for more than several months.
At the summit one Prime Minister warned us not to be dreamers, not to think #Brexit could be reversed. But in this difficult moment, we need dreamers and dreams. We cannot give in to fatalism.
At least I will not stop dreaming about a united Europe. https://t.co/qXkBC1tbtY
— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) April 16, 2019
He made the comments as he addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg on last week's European Council summit at which British prime minister Theresa May was offered a six-month Brexit delay.
"One of the consequences of our decision is that the UK will hold European elections next month,” said Mr Tusk.
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"We should approach this seriously as UK members of the European Parliament will be there for several months - maybe longer.
"They will be full members of the Parliament with all the rights and obligations. I am speaking about this today because I have strongly opposed the idea that during this further extension the UK should be treated as a second category member state. No, it cannot.
"Therefore I also ask you to reject similar ideas if they were to be voiced in this House."
He also said the European Union did not give in to "fear and scaremongering" about the UK disrupting the EU's functioning during a Brexit extension.
He said: "I know that some have expressed fear that the UK might want to disrupt the EU's functioning during this time but the EU 27 didn't give in to such fear and scaremongering.
"In fact, since the very beginning of the Brexit process the UK has been a constructive and responsible EU member state and so we have no reason to believe that this should change."
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU has "nothing to gain" from the disruption a no-deal Brexit would bring to the UK,
Mr Juncker said the EU had adopted the "necessary contingency measures", but said only those who seek to undermine the global legal order would benefit from such an exit.
"We have adopted the necessary contingency measures and we are ready for a no-deal Brexit," he told MEPs.
"But our union has nothing to gain from great disruption in the United Kingdom. The only ones who would benefit are those who resent multilateralism and seek to undermine the global legal order."
Meanwhile, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage claimed his party would win a general election if Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn agree to a permanent customs union compromise.
He told the European Parliament: "The Brexit Party will sweep the board in these elections and there is only one way it can be stopped and that is if the governing party of Mrs May and the opposition of Mr Corbyn come together and agree to a permanent customs union, and indeed effectively membership of the single market.
"If that happens, the Brexit Party won't win the European elections but it will win the general election because the betrayal will be so complete and utter, so I don't believe it's going to happen."
In Westminster, cross-party talks between Labour and the government are expected to continue on Tuesday at an official level.
Meanwhile, the Independent Group set up by MPs who defected from Labour and the Conservatives has become a registered political party called Change UK.
This means they can field candidates at the upcoming European Parliament elections.