Tusk speaks for UK citizens’ rights, even if PM won’t

by Quentin Peel | 27.03.2019

When a history of the Brexit shambles comes to be written, the name of one man should stand out as a true hero of the fight to prevent the UK committing a grievous act of national self-harm: Donald Tusk, president of the European Council. In the midst of confusion and gloom, he has given hope to the campaign for the UK to stay.

Last week he played a vital role at the EU summit in Brussels in crafting the skilful compromise that has given the UK Parliament just enough time and space to find an exit from the chaos created by Theresa May and her divided Cabinet.

With the shortest of possible extensions – just two weeks beyond March 29 – he persuaded the Council to hand the initiative back to Westminster to choose between May’s deal, no deal, a longer extension that would enable a People’s Vote, and outright revocation of Article 50 and the whole Brexit process. He called May’s bluff in the insane game of chicken that she has been playing with Parliament, the people, and the rest of the EU.

Yesterday, in a passionate personal statement to the European Parliament, he rounded on those doubters among the MEPs – British and non-British alike – who are horrified at the thought of giving the UK a longer extension to make up its mind.

“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,” he said. “They may feel 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.”

His words were delivered the day after the UK government bluntly rejected the idea of revoking Article 50 on the grounds that “it would undermine both our democracy and the trust that millions have placed in government”. At the same time, May is seeking to thwart the will of her Parliament, block a People’s Vote, and the holding of European elections.

Tusk’s statement is a timely reminder that the fundamental values of the EU include respect for democracy and citizens’ rights. Those who repeat incessantly that a lousy Brexit deal is expressing “the will of the people” should pay attention.

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Edited by Luke Lythgoe

12 Responses to “Tusk speaks for UK citizens’ rights, even if PM won’t”

  • I found Donald Tusk’s speech uplifting and it was great to hear him express the EU’s support for remainers who have suffered three years of insults and abuse from this rotten, stupid government. Of course, Farage embarrassed us all again. If he does not want EU elections to take place in this country, then he does not have to stand. I’m sure everyone would be glad to see the back of him. I cannot understand MEPs whose sole objective is to obstruct the work of the EU. Their aim is to destroy it, yet they are happy to take the large pension that will come their way. What are his motives, anyway? Braverman is another one. She is my MP and, after her comments at yesterday’s Bruges group meeting, I honestly don’t think she is fit to be an MP. Brexit has damaged the fabric of British society beyond repair. My son in law is a leaver and has incoherent views about the EU. We hardly speak these days other than ‘the weather’s been bad again’. It’s a shambles and I can now see how the country was riven in two by the English Civil War, 1642-1649. A civil war is what we have now. Well done, Cameron, it is all your work.

  • I very much agree with Donald Tusk sensible, flexible and open hearted comments! It would be nice if his attitude would rub off our stubborn rigid selfish British government. We, the citizen of this great country (I have dual nationality: British and Swiss) watch in horror how they are knowingly or blindly? damaging this country by swaying towards the extreme right of the Conservative party: They don’t even want to put the people’s vote into the loop when the people did a petition and marched for it! And then the PM says she is on the ‘people’s side’!
    This sounds so fake! And when I read the comments of people there is a lot of sesillusion now more hen ever… But we are not going to give up!

  • As an expat I saw the incredible gulf between the way the UK government treats me and the consideration shown to us by Donald Tusk. I found his approach very human and heartfelt, against the robotic and formulaic Teresa May. At least under his watch we may still have some kind of future, under May, or her successor there is little chance.

  • I agree that what he said is uplifting just like it was to attend the march last Saturday. So pleased the Revoke article 50 petition has virtually reached 6 million. If there are European elections I hope Led by Donkeys have a massive campaign against him. I do not want him embarrassing us any more in the EU. Please EU consider those in the U.K. who desperately want to continue to be European.

  • I too marched on 23rd as a committed remainer. I am so sad we may soon not be a part of what is the biggest and most important peace project ever undertaken. It’s not all about trade and money, it is the friendship and co-operation of nations and enjoying their differences while being able to travel freely between them. We shall lose much more than we can ever gain.

  • Despite our progressive economic decline following the 2016 EU Referendum, our political system fails to respond. Despite our potential post-Brexit exposure to unpleasant influences like Trump, even the opposition doesn’t know what to do. I say thank you to EU politicians, such as Donald Tusk, Guy Verhofstadt, Philippe Lamberts, etc.
    Fromage, not Farage! Tusk, not Trump. Democracy, not dystopia!

  • I do not understand why the government is so afraid of giving the people the final say. Rather than damaging democracy, surely it is upholding democracy. We have the opportunity to change our minds about which party is leading the country every five years (maximum), but apparently we cannot be allowed the opportunity to vote again on remaining in the European Union three years down the line, even though only 36% of the electorate voted to leave, on the basis of lies, deliberate misleading, and possible criminal activities. It would have been much more acceptable if, for instance, the government had said that all the countries of the UK must agree on remaining or leaving in order for the referendum to be treated as binding, rather than advisory, or if they had applied the same rule as they did for the first Scottish referendum (regarding devolution), which stated that 40% of the Scottish electorate would need to vote for it. If nothing else, this whole sorry mess has exposed just how self-serving, ignorant and incompetent our top politicians are. Thanks, Donald Tusk, for standing up for us!

  • I am convinced that most of us want to stay in the EU. So kick that dreadful woman out and let us have some sense again.

  • Again an article spelling out the fairly simple reasoning that Brexit is an idiocy if you just stand back, question your motives to want to leave and most of all, ask yourself whether you in the deepest of your heart’s recesses believe that England on its own (UK? What UK?) is going to have the slightest chance of political and commercial success, better than what EU membership offers. I am sure that those who still want to leave (saw a few of them yesterday) rather dream on than face reality. Apart from that: it’s xenophobia that drives them, Tusk in all his wisdom is a foreigner, therefore can’t be much good. Sad, sad, sad!

  • I am 78, and thought I had achieved a calmer stage in life, but I don’t think I have ever felt so angry and upset because of this Brexit debacle. I can hardly bear to speak to people who still say they will vote Leave if there is a second referendum. I have even come across those who voted Remain in 2016, but now say they would vote Leave given the opportunity. They do not appear to have educated themselves about the lies and misinformation which passed for democracy in 2016, nor bothered to find out the true cost to our economy and standing in the world. Nor do they seem to care about the effect leaving, especially with a No Deal, would have on younger generations.

  • I am a devout remainer. I live in the EU and would never return to the UK run by such self seeking politicians. Their agenda is paramount, the will of the people and the right of the people is being thwarted. Us “expats” have no right to vote on any referendum, Elections etc. The Americans do no matter where they have established their lives out of the USA. I was so uplifted by Donald Tusk’s speech of support for those British Europeans who do not want to jump from the fat into the fire. I am a European and I want to remain a European. Thank you Donald Tust.

  • I am a fervent European and Globalist, now 75years old with 25years in the RAF behind me which makes me wonder if it was all worth it. I have always considered the 2016 referendum to be a huge political conspiracy, the majority of the media Barons were desperate for Brexit (The EU and their tax evasion directive played a key role). There are so many criminals who were involved in the Brexit vote who should now be behind bars. If I had an extremely large boat I would pack all the devious individuals on it and deport them to somwhere like N. Korea, I think Farage, Banks et al could work wonders for Kim Jong-Un.