Donald Tusk says there is a '30% chance' of Brexit not going ahead

Posted On: 
10th May 2019

Donald Tusk has said that he believes there is a 30% chance that Britain will not leave the European Union.

Theresa May and Donald Tusk in Downing Street in April
PA Images

The European Council president said the Brexit vote "awoke in Great Britain a pro-European movement" which could see the referendum result overturned.

And in comments likely to infuriate Brexiteers, Mr Tusk said he would not "capitulate" until the UK's departure is finally confirmed.

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The UK was due to leave the EU on 29 March, but that deadline has now been pushed back to 31 October because of Theresa May's failure to win MPs' backing for her deal.

"After the British referendum in 2016, I thought that if we recognise that the case is closed, it will be the end," Mr Tusk said.

"Today the chance that Brexit will not happen is, in my opinion, 20-30%. That’s a lot.

“From month to month, it is becoming increasingly clear that the UK’s exit from the EU will look completely different than the Brexit that was promoted... I see no reason to capitulate.”

Mr Tusk also hit out at David Cameron’s decision to hold the referendum in June 2016 as being “at the worst possible moment” and the “result of a wrong political calculation”.

“A real debate about the consequences of Brexit wasn’t had during the referendum campaign, but only after the vote. Today the result would probably look different.

“Paradoxically, Brexit awoke in Great Britain a pro-European movement.”

On calls for a fresh public vote, he added: “If the 2016 referendum was able to change the result of the referendum in 1975, why can it not be changed again? Nothing is irreversible until people believe it is."

Meanwhile Labour MPs who support a second referendum have called on Jeremy Corbyn to abandon "toxic" Brexit talks with Theresa May that party members are “furious” about.

The PM and opposition leader have been locked in negotiations since the start of April in a bid to find a compromise deal that could get through the Commons, however there has been no sign of progress.

Former Shadow Cabinet minister Mary Creagh told the Evening Standard: “Our members and voters are furious with these talks, which have done nothing except keep the Prime Minister in office and depress Labour’s vote at the local and European elections”.

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting told the paper: “These talks are a millstone around the necks of every Labour candidate at these European elections. It’s time for Labour to ditch these toxic talks.”