EU says ‘hearts still open’ to Brexit reversal
STRASBOURG – Agence France-Presse
Tusk’s comments weighed into a debate in Britain about whether to hold a second referendum on Brexit, following the June 2016 vote to leave.
He won the backing of European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, who urged London to heed the suggestion that it could stay in the bloc.
“If the U.K. government sticks to its decision to leave, Brexit will become a reality with all its negative consequences in March next year, unless there is a change of heart among our British friends,” Tusk told the European Parliament, to light applause.
“Wasn’t it [British Brexit Minister] David Davis himself who said if a democracy cannot change its mind it ceases to be a democracy?” he told the assembly in a speech about last month’s EU summit.
“We on the continent haven’t had a change of heart. Our hearts are still open to you.”
Leading Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage surprisingly pushed the issue back onto the agenda last week when he said he was increasingly open to the idea of a second referendum.
Former UKIP leader Farage said it would silence those in Britain who do not want to leave the bloc, but it was quickly seized upon by pro-EU politicians.
British Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman later ruled out a second vote. British voters in 2016 chose to leave the EU by 52 percent to 48 percent.
Juncker however called on the British government to listen to Tusk’s suggestion.
“Tusk said our door still remains open and I hope that that will be heard clearly in London,” the former Luxembourg prime minister said.