Donald Tusk: Transition deal will delay Brexit's 'negative consequences'
The transition deal struck between the UK and Brussels will "delay all the negative consequences" of Brexit for nearly two years, Donald Tusk has said.
The European Council president spoke out as he revealed he had recommended to the EU's 27 other member states that they should welcome the agreement struck earlier this week.
Under the terms of the deal, Britain will continue to follow the EU's rules until the end of 2020.
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier hailed it as a "decisive step" on the road to Brexit, but admitted that the sides were still no nearer reaching an agreement on how to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Theresa May, who will travel to Brussels tomorrow for an EU Council summit at which the deal will be formally accepted, has said that it is necessary to avoid a "cliff edge" when the UK finally leaves.
But Mr Tusk's remarks, which he made on Twitter, are sure to anger Brexiteers as it suggests that the UK will effectively still be an EU member long after the formal leaving date of 29 March, 2019.
Labour MP Alison McGovern, of the pro-EU group Open Britain, said: “Transition is nothing more than the Government kicking the can down the road on all the negative consequences and difficult choices created by Brexit.
"We will go from being a rule-maker to a rule-taker, without any idea of what the future UK-EU relationship will look like. It will leave the UK in a weak and vulnerable position, as the cliff-edge of December 2020 approaches.
"If more time is needed, then extending the Article 50 process is much the better option than this ‘transition to nowhere’ option which the Government seem hell-bent on taking.
"And if – as is becoming clearer by the day - the Brexit which materialises is not what people were promised in the referendum, then we are all entitled to ask if it’s the right path for the country."
Eloise Todd , chief executive of Best for Britain, said: "Tusk is trolling Theresa May but the serious point is that the Brexit can has been kicked further down the road. But we're running out of road.
"The Government hope they can put off every decision, and everyone will look the other way. It won't work - we are facing the biggest act of economic self harm in modern history while the Prime Minister clings onto every word Jacob Rees-Mogg utters. It would be funny if it wasn't both so important and so pathetic."