Donald Tusk has revealed how he pleaded with former Prime Minister David Cameron not to follow through with Brexit after the historic vote in 2016. Mr Tusk blamed David Cameron for the “mistake” of organising the referendum while Conservative Party leader. The former European Council President also hoped the vote could be undone, the morning after Britain opted to leave the bloc.
In his first interview since standing down as European Council President last week, Mr Tusk said Brexit was “the most painful and saddest experience” of his five years in office.
Speaking to the Guardian, Mr Tusk revealed how he blamed Mr Cameron for Britain’s historic decision to leave.
Mr Tusk said: “I asked him: ‘Is it a decision, is it an obligation to follow this result?’”
When Mr Cameron explained how plain the decision was, the former Polish prime minister said he continued to hope.
He said: “My intention was to at least prolong the whole debate in Europe and also in the UK.
“With this, maybe [it was] a little bit naive [to] hope that it could be reversible.”
Mr Tusk also said it would be better for both the European Union and Britain if Brexit does not happen.
He said: “The only difference would be that they [the UK] will still be here. They will be divided anyway: 50/50.
“It’s pure illusion [to think] that it is easier to build good relations with the UK when they are outside.”
Mr Tusk has previously described himself as a “Remainer at heart” and just last month discussed whether Brexit could still be reversed.
Referencing a German philosopher, while delivering a speech at the College of Europe in Brugge, he said: “Hannah Arendt taught that things become irreversible only when people start to think so.
“So the only words that come to my mind today are simply: Don’t give up. In this match, we are already in extra time, perhaps it will even go to penalties?”
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During his speech, he also claimed Leavers had wanted to restore Britain’s global credentials but had achieved the “opposite” instead.
He said: “I have heard repeatedly from Brexiteers that they wanted to leave the European Union to make the United Kingdom great again, believing that only alone, it can truly be great.
“You could hear in these voices a longing for the Empire. But the reality is exactly the opposite.
“Only as part of a united Europe can the UK play a global role, only together can we confront, without any complexes, the greatest powers of this world.”
The UK is currently scheduled to leave the European Union at the end of January this year, but Britain’s departure hangs in the balance with the general election next week.
Conservative leader Boris Johnson has vowed to deliver his already agreed withdrawal agreement with the European Union, if elected.
Mr Johnson has repeatedly said his deal is “oven ready” and he will “get Brexit done”.
Writing on Twitter on Thursday, he said: “If there’s a Conservative majority government, we can deliver the change people voted for.
“We can get Brexit done. We can make a decisive break with the dither and indecision of the last three and a half years. We can unleash Britain’s potential.”