While Donald Tusk’s remark that there will be “a special place in hell” for those who promoted Brexit without any plan to deliver it safely has been the cause of great furore, Prime Minister Theresa May can take considerable heart from what the European Council president said before his controversial comment as she arrives in Brussels today to secure concessions from the EU.
For months, Mrs May has insisted that the UK faces a simple choice between her deal, no deal and no Brexit. While she is now chasing a revised version of her original deal that addresses Parliamentary concerns over the Irish backstop arrangements, Mr Tusk made several remarks yesterday that assist her cause.
Firstly, he suggested the EU has given up on the idea of a second referendum, saying “the facts are unmistakable” that “there is no political force and no effective leadership for remain”. Secondly, he said the most important task now “is to prevent no deal”.
Thirdly, and most pertinently, he said the EU is willing to listen to Mrs May’s ideas on how to end the impasse and expressed his hope she would be able to put forward a realistic suggestion and provide “a believable guarantee for peace in Northern Ireland” that prevents the return of a hard border.
While Mr Tusk still insisted the Withdrawal Agreement is not open for renegotiation, his latest comments show EU leaders believe a way around it may yet be possible, in everyone’s interests.
Astute spectators of the ‘hellgate’ chapter in the Brexit saga will see through the howling red-top hysteria and espy the olive branch in the rough.