David Cameron warned EU referendum was ‘stupid’ by Tusk
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The UK left the European trading bloc last year but in recent months has been locked in a fractious dispute with the EU over Northern Ireland. Brussels has stubbornly stuck to its position and refused to make concessions to Britain that would make it easier to trade with Northern Ireland, resulting in chaos for businesses on both sides of the Irish Sea. A recently uncovered interview with the EU’s former political chief Donald Tusk showed his true contempt towards the very idea of Brexit.
Mr Tusk, former President of the European Council, the bloc’s political organ, was interviewed for the 2019 BBC documentary, ‘Inside Europe: 10 Years of Turmoil’.
In Episode 1 he discusses a conversation he had with then-Prime Minister David Cameron about his promise to deliver on his election commitment of an in/out referendum on British membership of the EU.
Mr Tusk said: “I asked David Cameron, ‘why did you decide on this referendum?’, it’s so dangerous, even stupid.
“He told me – and I was really amazed and even shocked – that the only reason was his own party, the Tories.
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“And that he felt really safe because he thought at the same time that there was no risk of a referendum, because his coalition partner, the liberals, would block this idea of a referendum.
“But then, surprisingly, he won and there was no coalition partner. Paradoxically David Cameron became the real victim of his own victory.”
Mr Cameron’s Conservative Party won a majority at the 2015 general election after making a manifesto commitment to hold a public vote on Britain’s EU membership.
The PM had promised a referendum to address the Conservatives’ longstanding ‘Europe question’ in a bid to see off growing anti-EU sentiment among backbench Tory MPs.
Britain then voted to leave the bloc by a majority of 52 percent to 48 percent.
Mr Tusk’s successor, Charles Michel, has also taken a tough line on Britain over Brexit in relation to the ongoing row over Northern Ireland.
The European Council chief waded into the dispute in June as he repeated Brussels’ demands that the UK adhere to the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The Protocol, which controls how Northern Ireland trades with Britain after Brexit, was agreed as part of the UK-EU withdrawal agreement.
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It is intended to maintain the flow of trade across the Irish Sea, while avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and EU member state, the Republic of Ireland.
Unlike England, Scotland and Wales, Northern Ireland has effectively remained in the EU’s single market for goods.
Mr Michel said: “It is paramount to implement what we have decided. This is a question of rule of law.
“We will use all the tools we have in order to make sure that we defend our interests and to protect the integrity of the single market.”
His warning came after the UK unilaterally extended so-called grace periods, intended to allow businesses time to get used to strict customs checks on British products, including fresh meat, at the Northern Irish border.
The EU has refused to budge from its strict interpretation of the rules, and took legal action against the UK for extending the grace periods, which it alleges is a breach of the Protocol.
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