EU chief Donald Tusk yesterday denied claims he is planning to quit his post early after Brexit in order to run in Poland’s general election.
The Polish national’s second term as EU Council president is scheduled to last until November next year.
But sources in his home country claim that Mr Tusk, who served as Poland’s prime minister from 2007 to 2014, is quietly discussing the idea of resigning up to three months early to make a political comeback at home.
The President of the European Council Donald Tusk (pictured testifying before a parliamentary investigation commission in Warsaw on November 5, 2018) has denied claims he is planning to quit his post early after Brexit in order to run in Poland’s general election
The timing would coincide with the start of the campaign for the next Polish general election, which takes place no later than November next year.
Poland’s leading left-wing newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, cited unnamed close personal friends and political allies of Mr Tusk, who claimed he is plotting a comeback as either prime minister or president of the country.
According to the newspaper Mr Tusk expects the conservative government in Warsaw, which he has repeatedly clashed with, would veto other lucrative jobs he could be offered, such as in NATO or the UN.
The post of EU Council chief lasts two-and-a-half years and is only renewable once, meaning Mr Tusk would be jobless after November next year.
Yesterday his chief spokesman described the claims as ‘interesting speculation’ but added that they have ‘nothing to do with reality’.
Mr Tusk resigned as Poland’s prime minister four years ago in order to take on his current role as European Council President, which some said was ‘fixed’ by his old friend – Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel (pictured together)
Mr Tusk resigned as Poland’s prime minister four years ago in order to take on his current role, with EU taxpayers funding his 298,495 euros annual salary.
It was widely seen as having been ‘fixed’ by his old friend Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor.
Without Mr Tusk’s political cunning, his centrist Civic Platform party lost power in 2015 and has fallen into disarray.
Even its supporters lament a lack of leadership and direction and are calling for him to return like a champion ‘on a white horse’.
The plot means a new EU Council chief could be in place shortly after Britain leaves the EU on March 29 for the second phase of Brexit negotiations.
The role plays a crucial role in negotiations, as the EU Council chief organises leaders’ meetings and chairs meetings of member states.
Mr Tusk has a more strained relationship with Theresa May (pictured together) than Angela Merkel
In September Mr Tusk was criticised after mocking Theresa May at a summit in Salzburg at which she was humiliated.
After leaders rejected her post-Brexit Chequers plan, Mr Tusk mocked her by posting a picture of himself with her at a cake stand with the words: ‘A piece of cake, perhaps? Sorry, no cherries.’
The jibe was making reference to a long-running joke in Brussels that Britain wants to ‘have its cake and eat it’ in Brexit talks and that Britain is trying to ‘cherry pick’ which bits of the single market it wants to remain in. The stunt led Mrs May to call for more respect.
He also taunted her a month later after exploiting Tory splits over Europe by demanding that she abandon Chequers and accept a Canada-style trade deal – also a key demand of Tory Brexiteers.
After leaders rejected May’s post-Brexit Chequers plan, Mr Tusk mocked her by posting a picture of himself with her at a cake stand with the words: ‘A piece of cake, perhaps? Sorry, no cherries’
Mr Tusk, a liberal, has also repeatedly clashed with Poland’s right-wing government.
When he won a second term as EU Council chief in 2017, then Polish foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski said it was proof the EU is controlled by Berlin.
If Mr Tusk does decide to run he is likely to face an uphill battle, with the governing Law and Justice party remaining popular throughout its clashes with Berlin and Brussels on refugee quotas and recent reforms to its judicial system, which the EU says potentially breach the rule of law.
Following a parliamentary hearing in Warsaw where Mr Tusk was quizzed by MPs earlier this week, he warned of a ‘deadly risk’ of Poland being the next country to crash out of the EU – so-called ‘Polexit’.
When asked further if Mr Tusk would ‘100 per cent’ remain in his post for the full term, his spokesman last night declined to comment further.