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Brexit: Seeing Britain’s failure has ‘vaccinated’ other EU countries against Euroscepticism, EU president Tusk says (Independent)

1 June 2019


The Independent title: Brexit: Seeing Britain’s failure has ‘vaccinated’ other EU countries against Euroscepticism, EU president Tusk says

The Independent subtitle: Donald Tusk hails “pro-EU majority” in European Parliament after populists under-perform expectations

Date of publication: 29 May 2019

“Seeing Britain’s botched attempt to leave the European Union has vaccinated other EU countries against Euroscepticism, the president of the European Council has said.

Speaking 48 hours after EU election results came in Donald Tusk said Brexit had ensured the failure of anti-EU parties in last week’s contest.

“I have no doubt that one of the reasons why people on the continent voted for a pro-European majority is also Brexit,” Mr Tusk told reporters at a press conference.

“As Europeans see what Brexit means in practice, they also draw conclusions. Brexit has been a vaccine against anti-EU propaganda and fake news.”

Mr Tusk, who was speaking after an EU summit in Brussels attended by the bloc’s 28 presidents and prime ministers, added that many eurosceptic parties had abandoned anti-EU slogans presented themselves “reformers” – a change he said was a “positive development”.

The claim – which appears to be supported by opinion polls and election results – will enrage Brexiteers, who before the EU referendum had predicted a “domino effect” of other EU member states leaving a disintegrating union after they saw how successful Britain’s exit had been.

But anti-EU, populist, and far-right parties underperformed despite high expectations in EU elections last week, after voter turnout on the continent rose to the highest level in decades – over 50 per cent.

EU leaders took a break from discussing Brexit at the summit, which was dedicated to the process of choosing the next European Commission president. Mr Tusk said after the meeting that ”no one even tried to discuss Brexit today”.

Asked about his request that the UK should not waste the time it had been given as part of March’s extension to the Article 50 period, the European Council president said: “I think that my appeal is still valid. I have nothing to add to my words, because I have no new information. Nothing promising, I should say. Our role today is to wait for some new solutions. I want to be as delicate as possible. I’m not in the mood to find a new formulation or a new appeal to my British colleagues.”

Polls across the EU show support for leaving the bloc down to record low levels in most member states since Brexit. Predictions that Eurosceptics and populists would take a third of seats in the European parliament in last week’s elections also ended up being far off the mark.”



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