‘Hard Brexit so painful Britons may never pull out of EU’ - European Council chief

© Luke MacGregor
Britain may back down from leaving the EU when it realizes how “painful” Brexit will be, European Council President Donald Tusk has predicted.

Tusk told a Brussels-based think-tank that nobody in Europe would benefit from Britain’s departure and the only “real alternative” to a so-called ‘hard Brexit’ is if the UK doesn’t leave the EU at all.

The only real alternative to a hard Brexit is no Brexit, even if today hardly anyone believes in such a possibility,” he said on Thursday night.

The president went on to single out Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who boasted that Britain could “have its cake and eat it too.”

The brutal truth is that Brexit will be a loss for all of us,” Tusk said.

There will be no cakes on the table for anyone. There will be only salt and vinegar.”

Tusk’s comments come as US rating agency Standard & Poor’s warned instability for pound sterling as a result of Brexit fears could jeopardize the its position as an international reserve currency.

European leaders are toughening their stances on Brexit ahead of negotiations between Britain and the 28-member bloc.

Both Prime Minister Theresa May and key EU figures are now talking about a ‘hard Brexit,’ which would see would see the UK leave the single market and switch to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

Leaked government documents published in the Times this week predict the move could cause gross domestic product (GDP) to decline by up to 9.5 percent.

Assuming no EU contributions are made, the annual loss would be between £38 billion ($46.7 billion) and £66 billion ($81 billion) per year after 15 years, with the “smaller size of the economy to blame,” according to the document.

Speaking before the Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday, Johnson dismissed negativity surrounding Brexit discussions.

Those who prophesied doom have been proved wrong and will continue to be proved wrong,” he said, adding that it would be "wrong" for the EU to punish UK financial services over Brexit.

You seem to think the single market is like the Groucho Club or something. We are leaving the European Union and will continue to have access to trade and services from the EU.”