May due in Brussels after Tusk's 'special place in Hell' warning
CGTN

Talks between British Prime Minister Theresa May and European Union (EU) leaders in Brussels on Thursday look likely to be a combative affair, after European Council President Donald Tusk declared there was a "special place in Hell" for those who sold Brexit with no plan to deliver it.

Speaking to reporters after talks with Irish premier Leo Varadkar on Wednesday, Tusk said: "I've been wondering what that special place in hell looks like, for those who promoted Brexit, without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it out safely."

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Twitter screenshot

Tusk's comments, which sparked outrage among anti-EU politicians in the UK, were scripted and are seen as representing a shared irritation among EU leaders over Britain's stance.

"There is growing frustration among our leaders, who cannot understand why she (May) still has not been able to do what they do every day – talk to the opposition, build coalitions," one senior EU diplomat told Reuters. "The EU is not to blame."

Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar (L) and European Council President Donald Tusk shake hands after making a statement at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, February 6, 2019. /VCG Photo

Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar (L) and European Council President Donald Tusk shake hands after making a statement at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, February 6, 2019. /VCG Photo

May is scheduled to meet with Tusk and Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament, on Thursday to press for legally binding changes to the Irish backstop, the insurance policy designed to avoid a hard Irish border, ahead of a meaningful vote on her deal scheduled for February 14.

However, a report in Thursday's Daily Telegraph suggested the government now aims to delay that vote until later in the month.  

Julian Smith, the government chief whip, indicated at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday that the vote would be postponed because May will not have renegotiated her deal in time, the newspaper reported.

The vote on a new deal is now being planned for the week beginning February 25, just over a month before Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, according to the report.

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Twitter screenshot

Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has made public a letter written to May detailing the assurances his party would need to vote for a Brexit deal, meanwhile.

In the letter, Corbyn wrote that the Brexit deal must include a "permanent and comprehensive" UK-wide customs union, a close alignment with the single market, "unambiguous agreements" on future security arrangements, and commitments on UK participation in EU agencies and funding programs.

(With inputs from agencies)