Friday 18 October 2019

'Violence, lies, hate speech, resentment and myths are tools of today's politics,' warns Tusk

Warning: European Council President Donald Tusk. Picture: Reuters
Warning: European Council President Donald Tusk. Picture: Reuters

Raf Casert and Jill Lawless

European Council President Donald Tusk warned that Brexit resulted from confrontational politics with "the ability to deal brutally with opponents, competitors, misfits or strangers".

During a speech in Greece last night, he encouraged political leaders to heed ancient Athenian general Thucydides's warning about the dangers of war and confrontation.

He cited the Trump administration and European countries "where the foundations of liberal democracy and the rule of law are being undermined" as being part of the same trend that is taking the UK out of the European Union.

"Violence, lies, hate speech, myths, and resentment: These are the tools of today's politics," Mr Tusk said.

Meanwhile, the European Union's Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, will be meeting with UK Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay today as both sides are saying that the chances of reaching a divorce deal look increasingly slim.

Workable

The EU has said that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson needs to have workable proposals by the end of the week if there is to be any chance of a breakthrough at the October 17-18 EU summit.

Mr Barnier continues to believe that a Brexit deal with the UK remains possible, despite the massive gap in their negotiating positions ahead of the fast-approaching deadline.

He said it was essential for negotiators to keep a cool head in such stressful times and that "the EU will remain calm, vigilant, respectful and constructive".

Meanwhile, Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman says Germany hasn't changed its stance on Brexit and still intends to work "until the last possible point" to secure an orderly UK withdrawal from the EU.

Position

Steffen Seibert stuck to his position that Berlin won't comment on details of a phone conversation between Ms Merkel and Mr Johnson.

Downing Street said Ms Merkel had told Mr Johnson that "a deal is overwhelmingly unlikely" unless the UK agrees to let Northern Ireland continue to follow EU customs rules in order to maintain an open Border with Ireland.

Mr Seibert told reporters in Berlin that "we do not have a new position on Brexit - neither the chancellor nor the German government".

"It is as we have always said: that the German government will work until the last possible point for a solution so that we can achieve an orderly withdrawal of Britain from the European Union and can avoid a no-deal Brexit... because that is certainly the worst scenario for all concerned," said the spokesman.

Earlier, a group of anti-Brexit activists staged a protest at the European Commission's headquarters in Brussels asking for the EU to reject Mr Johnson's proposals for his country's planned exit from the bloc.

Amid anti-Brexit slogans and chants of "Stop Brexit!", protesters from Britain and Italy gathered in front of the Berlaymont building.

Irish Independent

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