In the latest frustrated comment from the EU as Brexit dealings crumble, European Commission boss Jean-Claude Juncker said his job in Brussels was “hell.” The quip came after another top EU official spoke of a hell for Brexiteers.
The Devil’s domain was first mentioned by EU Council president Donald Tusk, when he lambasted the UK authorities over their attempts to change the already negotiated withdrawal agreement with the bloc.
“I have been wondering what the special place in hell looks like for those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan to deliver it safely,” Tusk said.
Juncker was next to appear before the cameras in Brussels on Wednesday. The fun-loving EC chief, who was previously filmed mocking UK PM Theresa May’s dancing moves, just couldn’t let such a fiery comment as Tusk’s lie.
“I’m less Catholic than my good friend Donald. He strongly believes in heaven and by opposite in hell. I believe in heaven and I’ve never seen hell, apart from the time I was doing my job here. It’s hell,” he confessed.
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.
“Brexit is not a bilateral question between the Republic of Ireland and the UK… 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.
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.
The backstop is a safety net to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in case no Brexit trade deal is achieved between the UK and the EU. Varadkar, for his part, insisted that “Ireland is increasingly prepared for a no-deal.”
Meanwhile, Donald Tusk, the President of the EU Council, has lashed out at the UK, saying he wonders what the “special place in hell” looks like for those who pushed for Brexit without coming up with a clear plan to deliver it.
Addressing reporters in Brussels, Tusk reiterated the EU’s position on the Withdrawal Agreement, stating that the Brexit deal agreed with Theresa May’s Tory government in November last year, was not open to renegotiation.
May arrives for talks with EU officials on Thursday in an attempt to formulate “alternative arrangements” on the contentious Irish backstop. Tusk declared that he hoped the UK PM would come to the negotiating table with some realistic suggestions on the backstop.
On the prospect of a ‘no-deal’ scenario, Tusk insisted that Brussels is preparing for such a “fiasco,” before delivering some harsh words for UK government officials.
“I have been wondering what the special place in hell looks like for those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan to deliver it safely,” he said.
The EU Council president, flanked by Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar during his statement, claimed that people across Europe were hoping the UK would reverse its decision to leave the European Union.
He accepted that the prospect of the UK remaining in the EU was slim, given that both May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn were “pro-Brexit.” He added: “Today, there is no political force, and no effective leadership, for remain.”
Tusk reaffirmed the bloc’s commitment to the Irish backstop, insisting that the EU “will not gamble with peace.”
A spokesperson for Prime Minister Theresa May has responded to Tusk’s comments, stating that it was a question for him as to “…whether he considers the use of that kind of language to be helpful.”
The Democratic Unionist Party’s Brexit spokesperson, Sammy Wilson MP, has unleashed a damning appraisal of Tusk following his Brussels statement, labeling him a “devilish, trident-wielding euro-maniac.”
May is today holding Brexit talks with the five main political parties at Stormont in Northern Ireland, in a bid to reassure them that she can secure a deal that avoids a hard border, before heading on to Brussels for crunch talks with the EU.