EC president hails those who marched against Brexit and millions who petitioned to revoke article 50
Donald Tusk has issued a rallying call to the “increasing majority” of British people who want to cancel Brexit and stay in the European Union, The Guardian reports.
In a stirring intervention, the European council president hailed those who marched on the streets of London and the millions who are petitioning the government to revoke article 50.
Speaking to the European parliament, Tusk reprimanded those who voiced concerns about a potential lengthy extension to article 50 in the event of the Commons rejecting the withdrawal agreement again this week.
Tusk said: “Let me make one personal remark to the members of this parliament. Before the European council, I said that we should be open to a long extension if the UK wishes to rethink its Brexit strategy, which would of course mean the UK’s participation in the European parliament elections. And then there were voices saying that this would be harmful or inconvenient to some of you.
“Let me be clear: such thinking is unacceptable. You cannot betray the 6 million people who signed the petition to revoke article 50, the 1 million people who marched for a people’s vote, or the increasing majority of people who want to remain in the European Union”
To heckling from Ukip MEPs, Tusk went on: “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. Because they are Europeans.”
The former Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, responded to Tusk by describing him as “deluded” and claiming that a second referendum would deliver a larger majority for leave. Initial suggestions that 1 million people marched last weekend in favour of remaining in the EU have been questioned in recent days.Advertisement
In a pantomime moment, Farage turned to those sat behind him to ask whether they really wanted him to return as an MEP. He ended his speech to the parliament by appealing to the EU’s leaders to “get the British out”.
Tusk’s comments came as the British government emailed the 5.8m people who have signed a UK parliament petition seeking the revocation of article 50.
The government’s email informed signatories that “this government will not revoke article 50”.
It went on: “We will honour the result of the 2016 referendum and work with Parliament to deliver a deal that ensures we leave the European Union .
“Revoking article 50 would break the promises made by government to the British people, disrespect the clear instruction from a democratic vote, and in turn, reduce confidence in our democracy.”
MPs are set to take part in indicative votes later on Wednesday after
MPs voted to seize control of the parliamentary timetable to allow the House of Commons to explore whether there could be support for alternatives to Theresa May’s twice-defeated deal.
MPs will be offered a series of options on a paper ballot and given the opportunity to choose as many as they want to support, in the hope it will become clearer whether any alternative to the prime minister’s agreement could command a majority.
Another set of votes is likely to be held next Monday to continue the process of whittling down options, though it is probable May will have another go at winning a majority for her deal in the interim.
The European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, speaking after Tusk about Tuesday’s summit where discussions were also held over EU relations with China, told MEPs he awaited the Commons decision with interest.
“The debate on China was far less complicated than the debate on the UK and I was saying to some of you that if I was to compare Great Britain to a sphinx, the sphinx would be an open book by comparison”, Juncker said. “Lets see how that book speaks over the next week or so.”