POLITICS
16/01/2018 09:40 GMT | Updated 16/01/2018 14:00 GMT

Brexit Can Still Be Stopped, Says EU Council President Donald Tusk

'Our hearts are still open for you.'

Britain can still change its mind about Brexit and remain in the EU, European Council President Donald Tusk has said.

Speaking to the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday morning, Tusk said the UK could have a “change of heart”.

“If the UK 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,” he said.

Tusk added a jab at the Brexit secretary: “Wasn’t it David Davis himself who said: ‘If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy.’

“We, here on the continent, haven’t had a change of heart. Our hearts are still open to you.”

Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, added: “I hope that these comments by my colleague, Donald Tusk, are not ignored in London.”

Manfred Weber, a leader German MEP and ally of Angela Merkel, said the British public should be “worried about the priorities” of Theresa May’s government.

“My message to London is please don’t complain anymore. Please stop complaining, please deliver,” he said.

Weber mocked the British government for the “scam” claim that it needed to leave the EU to have blue passports.

“EU law does not say anything about passport colours. Croatia have navy blue passports for years already, you didn’t have to leave the Union for that, so why do you not tell people the truth?” he said.

The interventions came after Nigel Farage last week said he could support a second referendum. The former Ukip leader said another vote might be needed in order to secure the Brexit.

In an interview with The Observer, Farage added he was worried Brexiteers could “lose the historic victory” they won in 2016 as “The Remain side are making all the running”.

Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator joked to MEPs this morning that the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier must have spiked Farage’s drink during a meeting.

“I don’t know what he put in the coffee or the tea of Nigel Farage because he comes out of this meeting and backs a second referendum,” he said.

Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly refused to rule out supporting a second referendum. However Labour currently is not “calling” for one.

And Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer has urged Labour MPs to stop thinking how to “rub out” Brexit and instead focus on how to get the best deal for Britain outside the EU.

Speaking to the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) on Monday night, Starmer said that a second EU referendum couldn’t be held until 2021 at the earliest and even then would face “obvious” practical problems.

Theresa May has said holding a second referendum would be “betraying the British people”.

Bernard Jenkin, a senior Conservative backbencher, told Sky News after Tusk’s comments: “Nobody serious wants another referendum in this country on this question”.

There is also little support for a second vote among pro-Remain Tory MPs. Nicky Morgan told the BBC on Sunday she did not think it would, or should, happen.

“The June 2016 referendum was so divisive and I think we are still dealing with the fallout from that that actually having a second referendum would not help to heal the divisions in this country that have highlighted by the referendum,” she said.

“I think it’s right that the government does now focus on delivering the best possible deal as we exit the EU and I do accept that we are going to be leaving the European Union. Not something I campaigned for but I think it’s better we now make sure we have the best possible deal.”