Jean-Claude Juncker moans that Brexit is ‘a waste of time and energy’ – as Donald Tusk hints the bloc WILL grant an extension
- Donald Tusk says he is consulting leaders after Boris Johnson asked for delay
- Council president hinted that extension will be granted rather than allow No Deal
- Jean-Claude Juncker complained that Brexit had been ‘waste of time and energy’
Jean-Claude Juncker moaned that Brexit had been a ‘waste of time and energy’ today as he prepares to stand down.
The EU commission president delivered an extraordinary rant about how discussions with the UK had dominated his five years in office.
He said the process caused him ‘pain’ when he could have been focusing on how to make life better for ‘citizens’.
The complaint came as Donald Tusk delivered another strong hint that the EU will agree a Brexit delay – saying it would not be responsible for No Deal.
The European council president said he was consulting leaders after Boris Johnson grudgingly obeyed an order from MPs and sent a letter asking for an extension to January 31.
He insisted the situation was ‘complex’ and depended on events in Westminster, where Mr Johnson is struggling to force the package through Parliament.
But Mr Tusk added: ‘As I said to Prime Minister Johnson on Saturday, a no-deal Brexit will never be our decision.’
Donald Tusk (left) delivered another strong hint that the EU will agree a Brexit delay today – saying it would not be responsible for No Deal. Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker (right) delivered an extraordinary rant at the UK for dominating his tenure
Mr Juncker, who is due to stand down next month after five years, boasted that the EU had achieved ‘all’ its objectives in the talks. But he complained that it had ‘pained me to spend so much of this mandate dealing with Brexit’. ‘A waste of time and a waste or energy,’ he swiped.
The comments came as the two politicians gave valedictory speeches to the EU parliament.
Mr Tusk told MEPs the latest package was ‘based on the deal that we agreed with the previous government’.
He insisted it had only been possible to get rid of the backstop because Mr Johnson had given ground on customs checks.
‘Prime Minister Johnson’s acceptance to have customs checks at the points of entry into Northern Ireland will allow us to avoid border checks between Ireland and Northern Ireland, and will ensure the integrity of the Single Market.
‘The revised deal was possible and acceptable to the EU because: firstly, it had the support of Ireland; secondly, it had the support of the European Commission, ensuring that all our negotiating objectives were met; and thirdly, because it avoids a chaotic no-deal Brexit.’
Mr Tusk added: ‘The situation is quite complex following events over the weekend in the UK, and the British request for an extension of the Article 50 process.
‘I am consulting the leaders on how to react, and will decide in the coming days. It is obvious that the result of these consultations will very much depend on what the British parliament decides, or doesn’t decide. We should be ready for every scenario.’
Mr Juncker said he had wanted to spend more of his time considering how the EU could ‘do better for its citizens’.
‘I will always regret the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union but at least we can look at ourselves in the eye and say we have done all in our power to ensure that this departure is orderly,’ he said.
He also made clear that the European Parliament will wait until MPs have voted to consider the deal.
‘First London, then Strasbourg,’ he said
Boris Johnson (pictured at the Commons on Saturday) has published his 110-page Brexit Withdrawal Bill just hours before MPs will debate it amid Commons anger that it is being rushed through