Sunday 23 July 2017

Keep Brexit emotions in check, says Tusk

European Council President Donald Tusk
European Council President Donald Tusk

Francesco Guarascio in Brussels

Britain's looming negotiations with the European Union on exiting the bloc are already very tough and will become "impossible" if emotions are allowed to run unchecked, the chairman of EU summits said yesterday.

Donald Tusk's warning followed comments by British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday that some European politicians and officials were seeking to affect the outcome of Britain's election on June 8.

"These (Brexit) negotiations are difficult enough as they are. If we start arguing before they even begin, they will become impossible," Tusk said in a statement read out after a meeting with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

"The stakes are too high to let our emotions get out of hand. Because at stake are the daily lives and interests of millions of people on both sides of the Channel," said Mr Tusk, who heads the European Council that groups EU national governments.

Discretion, moderation, mutual respect and a maximum of good will were required to succeed, said Mr Tusk, a former Polish prime minister who will play an important role in the negotiations.

Earlier the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said it had no opinion on Mrs May's accusation about meddling.

"We are not naive. We know there is an election taking place in the United Kingdom, people get excited whenever we have elections," Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said.

Last weekend a German newspaper gave a damning account of a dinner last week between Mrs May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, reporting that he had told her that Brexit could not be a success.

Mrs May, whose Conservative Party has a double digit lead over the main opposition Labour Party in opinion polls, initially dismissed the German report as "Brussels gossip" before making her accusation of EU interference in the election.

Brexit negotiations are expected to begin after the election.

Irish Independent

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