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Hellish Tusk gets a Thank You card from Ireland, etc., etc.

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Offline the leveller

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Hellish Tusk gets a Thank You card from Ireland, etc., etc.
« on: February 07, 2019, 06:21:31 PM »
Good morning,
What an extraordinary day it was in Brussels yesterday.
Leading most of the papers today are the incendiary remarks made by European Council President Donald Tusk yesterday at a press conference alongside Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. At the end of a relatively short statement, Tusk opined:
“By the way, 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.”
Never mind the deeply undiplomatic nature of the comment which unsurprisingly drew much criticism, it was also totally untrue. While David Cameron and George Osborne may have irresponsibly refused to allow the civil service to prepare for the eventuality of a Leave vote in advance of the referendum, plans were drawn up by others. As Dr Lee Rotherham reminded us here on BrexitCentral in 2016, there was Change, or go - the seminal publication from Business for Britain which ran to more than 1,000 pages. Its subtitle, "How Britain would gain influence and prosper outside an unreformed EU", provides the clue to it being exactly what Tusk claims did not exist. Or there was the 2014 publication, Cutting the Gordian knot: A road map for British exit from the European Union, written by Rory Broomfield and Iain Murray. There were many others too.
There’s no way that this was an off the cuff intervention from Tusk. It was clearly planned. If you watch him making the remarks on our video, you can see him referring to written notes while he said it. And he then happily tweeted the words out afterwards (prompting an equally inappropriate response from MEP Guy Verhofstadt, which makes our Tweet of the Day below).
And then to rub salt into the wound, at the end of the press conference, Varadkar is caught saying: “They'll give you terrible trouble in the British press for that”, to which Tusk replies: “Yes, I know” and laughs. What on earth was he thinking???
Moreover, many of us had already been offended by some of the earlier contents of Tusk’s short statement. Aside from the contradiction of declaring the Withdrawal Agreement “not open for re-negotiation” while demanding that Theresa May offer a “suggestion on how to end the impasse”, the former Polish Prime Minister also reminded us of the EU’s arrogant attitude to referendums which deliver the “wrong” answer.
Having claimed that “a very great number of people in the UK… wish for a reversal of this decision” to leave the EU, he lamented: “The pro-Brexit stance of the UK Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition rules out this question… Today, there is no political force and no effective leadership for Remain”.
Some might say that the definitive result of the 2016 referendum rules out a reversal of the said decision. Call me old-fashioned, but when a parliament organises a referendum to ask the people a question, is it not duty bound to implement the answer it is given? But of course, that’s not the EU’s way of doing things. When Denmark rejected the Maastricht Treaty in a 1992 referendum, they had to vote again in order to approve it. It was the same with Ireland and their Nice Treaty referendum in 2001. And when the French and Dutch electorates rejected the European Constitution in 2005, it was merely cosmetically repackaged as the Lisbon Treaty. And when the Irish rejected that in 2008, they had to vote again in order to give Brussels the answer it required. All a salutary reminder that the EU is not so much undemocratic as anti-democratic.
Back to yesterday’s events and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also repeated that  the Withdrawal Agreement is the “only deal possible” and “not open for renegotiation”. Speaking alongside Varadkar after his meeting with the Taoiseach, Juncker specifically rejected the will of the House of Commons as set out through the Brady amendment when he declared that "alternative arrangements" could "never replace the backstop". And in order to ensure Tusk did not enjoy a monopoly on offending we Brits, a picture emerged of Juncker and Varadkar posing with a large novelty “Thank You from Ireland” card evidently sent to the Commission President, with Juncker’s office letting it be known that it contained the message “Britain does not care about peace in Ireland”.
All of yesterday’s antics were all the more extraordinary because of their timing: today Theresa May is heading to Brussels for meetings with Messrs Tusk, Juncker and Verhofstadt on the back of last week’s Commons votes and the Whitehall talks that have been considering alternative arrangements to the backstop.
Overnight, Downing Street have briefed out the key messages that the Prime Minister will be delivering at those meetings, which include:
The UK’s objective is to find a way to guarantee we cannot, and will not, be trapped in the backstop
The Prime Minister is open to different ways to achieve this, but is clear it must be legally binding and therefore will require changes to the Withdrawal Agreement
Parliament voted by a significant majority in the Meaningful Vote, sending an unequivocal message that change is required
Jeremy Corbyn has said he also has concerns about the backstop – so this is an issue that needs to be resolved for MPs across the House of Commons
The Prime Minister's spokesman underlined the need for movement from the EU when he said yesterday afternoon:
"Leo Varadkar said that they want the UK to leave with a deal, Donald Tusk said earlier today their priority is avoiding no deal. The fact is that the deal that was on the table has been rejected by 230 votes. So if, as they state, they wish for us to leave with a deal, there are going to have to be changes made in order to address concerns which MPs have on the backstop."
Today does in fact mark 50 days until 29th March when the UK will, in accordance with the law of land, leave the European Union. Writing on the Brexit Central website today, Louise Mclean notes that those seeking to frustrate or reverse the will of the people are running out of time and options. She also reminds us that an extension to the Article 50 period of more than a few weeks would be problematic because of the European Parliament elections taking place at the end of May: if the period were extended past then, surely the UK would have to participate in those elections? Yet given that the existing European Parliament sits for the last time on 18th April and needs to approve any Brexit deal that is struck and agreed by the British Parliament, there’s a very narrow window for that to be done. Click here to read her piece.
Today’s agenda will obviously be dominated by events in Brussels, although Brexit-watchers will also have an eye on International Trade Questions when Liam Fox and his ministers face the House of Commons at 9.30am. 
As ever, do follow BrexitCentral on Twitter to keep abreast of all the latest developments as they happen.
Jonathan Isaby
Editor, BrexitCentral
@isaby
=============================
Read more
https://brexitcentral.com/50-days-29th-march-clock-ticking-many-us-hoping-wto-brexit/
« Last Edit: February 07, 2019, 06:24:59 PM by the leveller »


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Offline the leveller

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Re: Hellish Tusk gets a Thank You card from Ireland, etc., etc.
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2019, 02:37:47 PM »


 
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