European Council president Donald Tusk has said there will be “a special place in hell” for those who promoted Brexit without any plan for how to deliver it safely.
Mr Tusk’s comments came as he repeated the EU’s insistence that the Withdrawal Agreement reached with Theresa May last year cannot be reopened to remove the backstop arrangement for the Irish border.
He was speaking alongside Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar following talks in Brussels in which they discussed preparations for what Mr Tusk described as the “fiasco” of a no-deal Brexit on March 29.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister began a round of meetings with Northern Ireland’s political leaders in her hunt for a breakthrough on the Irish backstop impasse.
She is due to meet Mr Tusk as well as European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on a visit to Brussels on Thursday.
Mr Tusk said the EU was not making “any new offer” and was hoping to hear from Mrs May “a realistic suggestion on how to end the impasse in which the process of the orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU has found itself following the latest votes in the House of Commons.”
He said the Irish border issue and the need to preserve the peace process remained the EU’s “top priority”, adding: “We will not gamble with peace or put a sell-by date on reconciliation. This is why we insist on the backstop.”
In a message to Mrs May, Mr Tusk said: “Give us a deliverable guarantee for peace in Northern Ireland and the UK will leave the EU as a trusted friend.
“I hope that the UK Government will present ideas that will both respect this point of view and at the same time command a stable and clear majority in the House of Commons.
“I strongly believe that a common solution is possible and I will do everything in my power to find it.”
But he concluded: “By the way, I have been wondering what that special place in hell looks like for those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan to carry it (out) safely.”