16:39 GMT +319 November 2019
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    EU Council President Donald Tusk and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar give statements after a meeting at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Belgium February 6, 2019.

    EU's Donald Tusk Promises 'Special Place in Hell' For Brexiteers

    © REUTERS / Yves Herman
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    The European Union is first and foremost a peace project, said the President of the European Council Donald Tusk on Wednesday, adding that this is why the bloc insists on the Irish backstop.

    Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar held a press conference with Mr. Tusk in Brussels, where both leaders addressed the ongoing Brexit negotiations.

    During the presser, Tusk employed strong rhetoric when commenting on officials championing Brexit "without a plan." 

    "I've been wondering what that special place in hell looks like, for those who promoted Brexit, without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it out safely."

    "They will give you terrible trouble in the British press for that," Varadkar told the EC president, following the press conference.

    "Yeah I know," replied Tusk.

    "But I know you are right," added Varadkar.

    Hell, Heaven or Unity Referendum?

    Commenting on Mr. Tusk's remark, the spokesman for the UK PM Theresa May said it was a question for the EU official whether he considers use of such language helpful. 

    Meanwhile, former UKIP leader and staunch Brexiteer, Nigel Farage, took to Twitter to say:

    "After Brexit we will be free of unelected, arrogant bullies like you and run our own country. Sounds more like heaven to me."

    The current leader of UKIP and an MEP, Gerard Batten hit back, arguing that "the lowest level in Hell is reserved for traitors."

    More reactions poured in following Tusk's abrasive message from Brussels to Brexiteers

    During the Prime Minister's Questions session in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Tory Brexiter Peter Bone described Donald Tusk's comment as a "completely outrageous insult."

    "I don't recall any president insulting members of this House, members of the government and the British people in such a way," Mr. Bone said.

    The leader of Ireland's Sinn Fein Party, Mary Lou McDonald said that the EC president was "reflecting real sense of frustration that people feel" and was "quite right to point that out."

    The Irish politician added that in the event of a crash, the UK PM must prepare for an Irish unity referendum.

    "We have said to her, in the event of a crash, in the event of a Tory crash, that she must as a democrat return to the Good Friday Agreement, and she must begin preparation for a referendum on Irish unity. If British politics cannot accept the specific needs of this country, of the north of Ireland, if British politics is incapable of acknowledging and upholding the Good Friday Agreement and preventing a hardening of the border, then the only last option — the backstop of last resort — is a referendum on Irish unity," McDonald said.    

    A picture shows a sign calling for no border to be imposed between Ireland and Northern Ireland outside Newry, Northern Ireland, on November 14, 2018 near the Irish border.
    © AFP 2019 / Paul Faith
    A picture shows a sign calling for no border to be imposed between Ireland and Northern Ireland outside Newry, Northern Ireland, on November 14, 2018 near the Irish border.

    Prepping for Fiasco

    Donald Tusk also confirmed that the EU27 "is not making any new offer" and recalled the December decision of the European Council to not reopen negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement.

    "The top priority for us is to maintain peace process in accordance with the Good Friday Agreement," Mr. Tusk said. 

    The EC president said he is looking forward to "realistic" suggestions from the British PM on how to solve the Brexit impasse. He, however, also warned that no-deal preparations were taking place in collaboration with the Irish PM in case of a negotiation "fiasco." 

    In response, Mrs. May's spokesman said that while Tusk was clear that he wants to avoid a no deal, it was also clear after the vote in the House of Commons that something in deal has got to change.

    In turn, the Taoiseach affirmed Ireland's commitment to the Irish backstop provision in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

    "In the light of the ongoing uncertainty in London and the fast approaching deadline, our preparations for a no-deal scenario must continue and intensify. I will discuss that in greater detail with the Commission later on," Varadkar added.

    The Irish PM also has scheduled meetings with the chair of the European Parliament steering group on Brexit, Guy Verhofstadt, commissioner Phil Hogan and the EU chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier.

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