LONDON — One of the most senior European Union politicians called for European and British officials to stop arguing, warning that Brexit negotiations will be “impossible” if both sides continue to attack each other in the press.
European Council president Donald Tusk said: “These negotiations are difficult enough as they are. If we start arguing before they even begin, they will become impossible.
“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. We must keep in mind that in order to succeed, today we need discretion, moderation, mutual respect and a maximum of good will.”
Tusk made the comments after a meeting with the Norwegian Prime Minister in Brussels on Thursday. The comments appear to be a clear reference to the sniping from both the EU and British in the press.
The UK government was infuriated by an extensive leak to a German newspaper last weekend about a meeting between European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Prime Minister Theresa May. Juncker was quoted in the piece telling the Prime Minister he “leaves Downing Street ten times as sceptical as I was before.”
May has hit back by accusing the EU of trying to influence the upcoming UK election with the leak. The PM told press outside Downing Street on Wednesday: “Britain’s negotiating position has been misrepresented in the continental press… these acts have been deliberately timed to affect the result of the UK general election that will take place on the 8th June.”
Tusk, one of the most senior EU politicians involved in Brexit, is clearly trying to cool flaring tempers will his appeal for a truce.
However, ironically, Tusk has been attacked in the British press on Friday for his comments. Former Conservative party leader Iain Duncan Smith told the Times: “We could all do without the patronising finger-wagging of unelected politicians in Brussels.”
Andrew Bridgen, a Tory candidate for North West Leicestershire, also told the paper that he thought Tusk’s comments were “sexist, patronising and inaccurate.”
Tusk’s comments also failed to stop Brexit secretary David Davis from going on the offensive on the BBC’s Question Times on Thursday night. The Secretary of State for Exiting the EU said the European Commission is trying to “bully the British people” and said the leaking the German press was “deliberately misleading.”
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