'This is why we are leaving': Brexiteers blast Donald Tusk for claiming 'Brexit is the real end of the British Empire' and will leave the UK a 'second rate' nation in election intervention

  • Britain will lose influence in the world after it leaves the EU, Donald Tusk said
  • European Council President said UK risks being 'second-rate' nation in the world
  • He issued call to people campaigning to overturn the referendum not to give up

Top Brussels Bureaucrat Donald Tusk was under fire tonight after he branded Brexit the 'end of the British Empire' - and told Remainers: 'Don't give up.' 

His intervention was likened to that of a 'jilted lover' after the outgoing EU council chief delivered an extraordinary condemnation of Britain's attempts to get out of the bloc. 

Mr Tusk used a speech last night to claim the only way the UK could be a 'global player' was within the EU and leaving would render it a 'second rate nation'.

But Brexiteers said it demonstrated the importance of cutting ties with Brussels quickly. 

Former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson said: 'His comments on ''the sovereignty of Europe as a political entity'' explain why so many voted to Leave. 

'We believe the UK should govern itself, not form part of a European superstate.' 

And Brexit Party MEP and election candidate Martin Daubney said: 'Until the bitter end, Donald Tusk maintains his contempt for British democracy. The sooner we Leave the EU The better!' 

The bombshell valedictory message was issued by Mr Tusk during a speech in Bruges about the philosopher Hannah Arendt

The bombshell valedictory message was issued by Mr Tusk during a speech in Bruges about the philosopher Hannah Arendt

 Mr Tusk was also criticised by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

In an interview, Mr Corbyn said: 'No I don't think we are ever going to be a second-rate player.

'This is a big country, an important country and trading partner and I look forward to leading a government that will be working with others around the world.

'He makes many statements at many times and he is the president of the EU and yes he can make those statements and I look forward to discussing them with him.'

The bombshell valedictory message was issued by Mr Tusk during a speech in Bruges about the philosopher Hannah Arendt.

Openly admitting that his intervention was unconventional, he told an audience of students: 'I want to tell you something I wouldn't have dared to say a few months ago, as I could be fired for being too frank.

'The UK election takes place in one month. Can things still be turned around? Hannah Arendt taught that things become irreversible only when people start to think so. So the only words that come to my mind today are simply – don't give up.'

He said the decision to leave the European Union would see Britain become a 'second-rate player' in the world.

'I've heard repeatedly from Brexiteers that they wanted to leave the EU to make the UK global again,' he added.

'You could hear in these voices a longing for the Empire. But the reality is exactly the opposite. Only as part of a united Europe can the UK play a global role ... and the world knows it.

'I have heard the same in India, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and South Africa, that after its departure the UK will become an outsider, a second-rate player, while the main battlefield will be occupied by China, the US and the EU.'

Brexit backers say the UK - the world's fifth largest economy - will achieve a new global status unshackled from EU rules and closer to the United States.

But Tusk said only a united Europe could confront an assertive China and play an effective global role.

Tusk has repeatedly voiced a wish for Britain to change its mind and stay in the EU. The former Polish prime minister will step down from his post on December 1, handing over to former Belgian prime minister Charles Michel.

Many Western diplomats believe Britain after Brexit must be careful not alienate itself from other friendly countries who have a more multilateral approach to world politics than Trump.

''Why are they doing this?' - I was asked this regretful question everywhere I went', Tusk said. 

'One of my English friends is probably right when he says with melancholy that Brexit is the real end of the British Empire.' 

Boris Johnson (pictured campaigning with Rosie the rabbit during his visit to the West Monkton CEVC Primary School during a general election campaign trail in Taunton today) has insisted uncertainty over Brexit is holding Britain back

Boris Johnson (pictured campaigning with Rosie the rabbit during his visit to the West Monkton CEVC Primary School during a general election campaign trail in Taunton today) has insisted uncertainty over Brexit is holding Britain back

'This is why we are leaving': Donald Tusk blasted for saying Brexit will make UK 'second rate'

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