European legislators should not "betray" Remainers wishing to cancel Brexit, European Council president Donald Tusk urged MEPs on Wednesday.
President Tusk told MEPs not to "betray" nearly six million Remainers urging Westminster to cancel Article 50 via an online petition, in addition to one million people marching for a People's Vote last weekend and those wishing to remain in the bloc.
"There were voices saying that this would be harmful or inconvenient to some of you. Let me be clear: such thinking is unacceptable," Tusk told MEPs.
"They may feel that they are not sufficiently represented by the UK Parliament, but they must feel that they are represented by you in this chamber," Mr. Tusk added. "Because they are Europeans."
Appeal to EP: You should be open to a long extension, if the UK wishes to rethink its strategy. 6 million people signed the petition, 1 million marched. They may not feel sufficiently represented by UK Parliament but they must feel represented by you. Because they are Europeans.— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) March 27, 2019
12 April was now "the cliff-edge date", Mr. Tusk said, adding that EU leaders would probably hold a future summit prior to discussing a longer extension of Brexit.
Replying to MEP for the UK and staunch Brexiteer Nigel Farage, European Commission chief negotiator Michel Barnier said that EU officials were working to respect the will of the British people backing Brexit. "No one in Brussels is trying to steal Brexit from you," Mr. Barnier said.
.@MichelBarnier in @Europarl_EN: “@Nigel_Farage, no one in Brussels is trying to steal #Brexit from you...but it is not Brussels that decided that the UK would leave the EU. You made that choice, you must take responsibility & face up to the consequences. Nobody else.” https://t.co/Hvc7KpSQqN— Daniel Ferrie 🇪🇺 (@DanielFerrie) March 27, 2019
But Mr. Barnier said that it was still up to London to decide. "It can still stay, everything is possible up until the 12 April," Barnier said.
Scottish National Party MEP Alyn Smith stressed that European Parliament should back an independent Scotland.
"If we are removed against our will, independence will be our only route back," Mr. Smith said. "I'm asking you to leave a light on, so we can find our way home."
🏴🤝🇪🇺 @AlynSmith to the @Europarl_EN: “If we are removed against our will, independence will be our only route back.— The SNP (@theSNP) March 27, 2019
I’m asking you to leave a light on, so we can find our way home.”@donaldtusk and colleagues applauded the speech. pic.twitter.com/4ZkJYdIiXE
But Mr. Farage called UK prime minister Theresa May's Brexit delay "the greatest betrayal of any democratic vote of our nation", adding that the deal was "a bad piece" and "unacceptable".
"It is not Brexit and it will not pass," Mr. Farage chided, adding that no matter what deal the prime minister presents next week, that the UK was "headed for an Article 50 extension".
Striking back at a visibly angry Mr. Tusk, Farage said: "If you think that the British people have changed their minds on Brexit, you sir are deluded."
The EU has prepared for a no-deal scenario in a Monday press release stating that conclusions in last week’s meeting called for “work to be continued on preparedness and contingency”. While a no-deal Brexit was not “desirable”, the EU was prepared for it, the Commission said. The Council also agreed on 21 March to extend Brexit to 22 May if Commons agreed on a deal no later than 29 March, or 12 April if the UK failed to secure a deal. Commons will debate contingencies to Mrs. May's Brexit plan on Wednesday and are expected to cast a third "meaningful vote" on later this week.