European Council President Donald Tusk today (20 June) used a Portugal press conference to launch an impassioned plea to Britons, asking them to vote to stay in the EU in four days’ time.
He warned that Brexit could be “the first step in the disintegration of the EU” and that the EU’s enemies would pop open a bottle of champagne if the UK quits the bloc.
The United Kingdom goes to the polls on Thursday (23 June) for the in/out referendum on its EU membership.
“I would like to appeal to British citizens on behalf – I know for a fact – almost all Europeans and European Leaders,” Tusk said in Lisbon during a visit to Portugal’s Prime Minister, Antonio Costa.
“Stay with us, we need you. We need you. Not only Europe but also the whole transatlantic western community will become weaker. Together we will be able to cope with increasingly difficult challenges of the future.”
He added, “The biggest fear that this possible negative result can be also encouraging for other Eurosceptics in Europe. It could be the first step in the whole process of disintegration.”
Polls this morning showed a rallying of support for Remain, after earlier polls showed momentum shifting to Leave.
Tusk said, “It’s so important to show today to Britons that we are ready to respect any result of the referendum but our intention is to be together […]we need the UK inside and not outside.”
The former Polish prime minister has given increasingly strident warnings over the possibility of Brexit in recent weeks, including claiming that it could lead to the “end of Western civilisation”.
But today’s direct plea to the British electorate represents a further stepping up of rhetoric from an EU boss. The institutions have until now been careful not to be seen as campaigning for Remain.
“Why am I so dramatic the last days? Because the biggest threat in fact is what we don’t know about these possible consequences of Brexit, Tusk said, “If we have something massive and unpredictable in politics it means always something very unpredictable and dangerous.”
“The threat is real it is not a theory. I have no doubt our enemies, internal and external, they will open a bottle of champagne if the result of ref is negative for us, if it is for exit.”
Tusk said Brexit could pose a risk to the economic stability of the Eurozone, but bullishly said the EU would be ready for the day after the referendum.
He stated, “Whatever the result is going to be we must take a long hard look at future of the Union. We would be foolish if we ignored such a warning signal as the UK referendum.
“There are more signals of dissatisfaction with the Union from all over Europe, not just the UK.”
Last week, Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, said that the bloc would survive Brexit, if it happened.