Jeremy Hunt’s Soviet Union comparison was ‘insulting’, says EU leader Donald Tusk

Here are the main points from what Donald Tusk said after his meeting with Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister.

Tusk, the president of the European council, said that when Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secetary, implicitly compared the EU to the Soviet Union in his Tory conference speech, he was being “unwise” and “insulting”.

He said negotiating Brexit would be easier now the Tory conference was over.

Unacceptable remarks that raise the temperature will achieve nothing except wasting more time. What needs to be done is maximum progress by the October European council.

I was [a] party leader myself for 15 years and I know what the rules of party politics are. But now the Tory party conference is over we should get down to business.

He said the EU remained willing to offer the UK not just a Canada-style trade deal, but “Canada plus plus plus”. That is what David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, used to say he wanted, and it is essentially what Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary, is demanding (although Johnson calls it “SuperCanada”). Tusk said:

The EU offer has been not just a Canada deal, but a Canada plus plus plus deal – much further reaching [than the EU-Canada deal] on trade, on internal security and on foreign policy cooperation. This is a true measure of respect and this offer remains in place. The EU is serious about getting the best possible deal, even though we have not changed our mind that the consequences of Brexit will be negative, for both sides.

He defended the EU’s treatment of Theresa May at Salzburg, saying telling the truth was a sign of respect.

Telling the truth, even if difficult and unpleasant, is the best way of showing respect for partners. That’s how it was in Salzburg, and that’s also how it will work in the coming days …

Emotional arguments that stress the issue of dignity sound attractive, but they do not facilitate agreement. Let us remember that every actor in this process has their dignity. And confrontation in this field will not lead to anything good.

He said the role of the EU’s negotiators was to “defend the interests of the European Union as a whole, and all the EU member states”.

He condemned the Russian attempted cyber-security attack on the OPCW and said he would put cyber-security on the agenda for the next EU summit.

He said the EU was fully united behind Ireland over Brexit.