European Council President Donald Tusk told British MPs, Eurosceptics, and Brexit voters are to blame for feelings of “anxiety” among European Union (EU) migrants.
Tusk launched the attack on Leave supporters in response to a letter from more than 80 MPs which blasted Brussels’s refusal to allow formal talks on reciprocal rights for EU migrants and British ex-pats.
Prime Minister Theresa May had proposed an amnesty for EU workers living in Britain in exchange for an agreement which gives Brits in Europe the same rights.
More than 20 nations signalled that they would agree to such an arrangement, and May had hoped to announce a deal within weeks. But this was blocked by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who feared it would give the Brexit side an upper hand in negotiations.
In his letter to MPs Tusk said the charge that EU politicians are to blame for making migrants fearful “had nothing to do with reality”. He then pointed the finger at Britain, for voting to leave the bloc, as the source of EU nationals’ “anxiety and uncertainty”.
He wrote: “Would you not agree that the only source of anxiety and uncertainty is rather the decision on Brexit? And that the only way to dispel the fears and doubts of all citizens concerned is the quickest possible start of the negotiations based on article 50 of the treaty?”
— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) November 29, 2016
Former leader of the Conservatives Iain Duncan Smith MP, who signed the letter which accused EU politicians of “playing politics with people’s lives”, blasted Tusk for being “only interested in his own power and authority” and indifferent to the “needs of ordinary people”.
“He is using people as a human shield against the UK, it’s a pathetic position to be in. These people should be given the right to remain.
“They are operating like the old Soviet system – it’s structured around absolute authority at the centre. They don’t care for people or democracy. It is reprehensible, bizarre and sad. I must say that I’m astonished that they would want to play games with people’s lives”, the former Work and Pensions secretary added.
Earlier this month the German Council of Economic Experts, who advise on policy to the German government, urged Chancellor Angela Merkel to block Brexit.
The so-called “Wise Men” – an independent and influential group of academics set up in 1963 to advise on economic policy – said “Brexit can still be prevented”, and called for “constructive negotiations to prevent an exit”.