Stephen Barclay accuses Donald Tusk of 'interfering' in election campaign as he blasts EU 'elite'
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay has accused Donald Tusk of "interference" in Britain's general election campaign.
In an angry attack on the outgoing European Council president, Mr Barclay said Mr Tusk's opposition to Brexit had been a "badly kept secret" and accused him of pushing for a government led by Labour's Jeremy Corbyn.
Mr Tusk used a speech this week to urge those battling Brexit not to "give up".
And he warned that quitting the EU would leave Britain as a "second-rate player".
"One of my English friends is probably right when he says with melancholy that Brexit is the real end of the British Empire," he told the Council of Europe.
Mr Tusk also said he had done "everything" in his power "to extend the time for reflection and a possible British change of heart" during Britain's extensions to the Brexit process.
But those comments were seized on by Mr Barclay, who said the comments revealed a "total disregard for democracy" among some EU leaders.
Writing for The Sunday Times, the Cabinet minister said he had been "dismayed" by Mr Tusk's comments, adding: "His disdain for Brexit is a badly kept secret. But at least no one can now be left in any doubt of his true motivations."
The Brexit Secretary said: "Fortunately I don’t think these views are widely held among member states, which are all democracies and know the importance of staying in step with public opinion.
"But what this speech does show is a total disregard for democracy from some of those at the top of the EU machine. Indeed it insults the intelligence of 17.4m leave voters to say that they did not know what they were voting for.
"This interference in our domestic election campaign shows where the EU elites’ real sympathies lie: with a Corbyn government which would renegotiate a deal and then campaign against it in another referendum, propped up by the SNP or the Liberal Democrats who would simply revoke article 50 without letting the British people have a say."
Mr Barclay's comments came as Boris Johnson revealed that every Conservative candidate running for the party at the general election has been asked to make a personal pledge to vote for the Prime Minister's EU withdrawal agreement if he achieves a Commons majority.