Europe

Tusk warns of 'special place in hell' for those who promoted Brexit without a plan

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European Council President Donald Tusk says those who promoted Brexit without working out any plan to deliver it have a special place in hell.

The EU will make no new offer on Brexit and those who promoted Britain's exit without any understanding of how to deliver it deserve a special place in hell, European Council President Donald Tusk says.

The UK is on course to leave the EU on March 29 without a deal unless Prime Minister Theresa May can convince the bloc to reopen the divorce deal she agreed in November and then sell it to sceptical British MPs.

As companies and governments across Europe step up preparations for the turmoil of a no-deal exit, diplomats and officials said the UK now faces three main options: a no-deal exit, a last-minute deal or a delay to Brexit.

Rebuffing Ms May's bid to renegotiate just a day before she is due in Brussels, Tusk said he wished the UK would reverse Brexit but that the bloc was preparing for a disorderly British exit as it would not gamble on peace in Ireland.

He said he no longer believed there was a way to stop Britain leaving due to the "pro-Brexit stance" of both the prime minister and the leader of the opposition.

"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," Mr Tusk said at a joint news conference with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Wednesday.

The comment, which will anger Brexit supporters in Britain, was tweeted from his account as he spoke the words, indicating it was not an off-the-cuff remark.

Brexiteer Nigel Farage responded to Tusk quickly.

"After Brexit we will be free of unelected, arrogant bullies like you - sounds like heaven to me," he said.

Meanwhile, Andrea Leadsom, leader of the House of Commons, said Mr Tusk should apologise for his "spiteful" comments and the DUP's Brexit chief Sammy Wilson labelled him a "devilish, trident wielding, euro maniac".

"It is Tusk and his arrogant EU negotiators who have fanned the flames of fear in an attempt to try and overturn the result of the referendum," Mr Wilson said.

Mr Varadkar said the Brexit deal, which was rejected by the UK parliament, was "the best possible".

He said Britain's political instability was another proof of why the backstop was needed.

At meetings in Belfast, May tried to tackle the biggest obstacle to getting a deal ratified by the British parliament - an insurance policy covering the possible future arrangements for the border between EU-member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland.

May said she would seek an alternative arrangement which avoids the need for a hard border or legally binding changes to the border backstop to introduce a time limit or create an exit mechanism.

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