EU council president Donald Tusk tells Britain: 'We miss you already'

Donald Tusk said the triggering of Article 50 was not a happy day for Britain or the rest of Europe

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 29 March 2017 15:13 BST
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EU council president Donald Tusk tells Britain: 'We miss you already'

Other European countries miss Britain’s membership of the EU already, the president of the European Union’s leadership council has said.

Speaking just minutes after the start of the formal secession process, Donald Tusk said there was “no reason to pretend this is a happy day”.

“We already miss you. Thank you and goodbye,” he said during a press conference in Brussels reacting to Theresa May’s triggering of Article 50.

Mr Tusk, a Polish national who leads one of the European Union’s three pillars, described the process that was about to unfold as “damage control” from the consequences of Brexit.

“There is nothing to win in this process and I am talking about both sides. In essence, this is about damage control,” he said.

Told of Mr Tusk’s comments about Brexit while in the House of Commons, Theresa May said: “We’ll still be part of Europe, although we’ll be leaving the EU institutions.”

Mr Tusk told journalists in Brussels: “What we should stress today is that as for now nothing has changed. Until the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, EU law will continue to apply to and within the UK.

“Finally, I would like to say that we have just released an official statement by the European Council in which it is stressed that we will act as one and start negotiations by focusing on key arrangements for an orderly withdrawal.

“On Friday I will share a proposal of the negotiating guidelines with the member states to be adopted by the European Council on 29 April. I will refer to this and I will commend our proposal on Friday during our press conference with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in Malta.

“What can I add to this? We already miss you. Thank you and goodbye.”

The UK and the EU will now have two years to negotiate Britain’s exit from the bloc; if no deal is made by the 2019 deadline Britain will crash out onto WTO rules. The period can be extended by a unanimous vote of EU member states.

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