European Council President Donald Tusk stunned a Brussels press conference Wednesday by saying he wondered what the “special place in hell” looked like for those who “promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan of how to carry it safely.”
Tusk’s Twitter account, which states it is managed by his media team, then repeated the comments for clarity.
Tusk, whose role is to represent the leaders of the 28 EU member nations, was speaking after talks with Irish premier Leo Varadkar in Brussels.
Varadkar was then caught saying to Tusk that “they will give you terrible trouble for this” in an apparent reference to the U.K. press.
Tusk also reinforced the EU’s stance that the Withdrawal Agreement was “not open for renegotiation” and hoped that U.K. leader Theresa May’s visit to Brussels on Thursday had “a realistic suggestion on how to end the impasse.”
May is visiting Brussels in an attempt to seek further concessions from the rest of the EU over how Britain will exit the bloc next month. The main point of contention within the current plan is the “backstop agreement,” currently in place as a safety net to avoid the return of a physical border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
A physical border is considered dangerous as it could the reignite sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland that was largely ended towards the close of the 20th century.
But the backstop is seen as unacceptable to some U.K. lawmakers who worry it will be used to permanently attach Britain and Northern Ireland to the European Union.
Tusk said keeping peace in Ireland was a priority.
“We will not gamble with peace or put a sell-by date on reconciliation. This is why we insist on the backstop,” he said.