Mr Tusk raged: “I’ve been wondering what that special place in hell looks like for those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it out safely.” BBC Political editor Laura Kuenssberg simply tweeted in response: “Blimey.
“Tusk’s message astonishingly strong – not exactly evoking spirit of compromise which is what he called for moments before while talking about protecting peace – not anything to do with actually getting a deal done either but will get massive reactions.”
Even ardent Remainer Anna Soubry wrote: “Donald Tusk sitting on the fence as ever…!”
Nigel Farage quickly responded on Twitter. He said: “After Brexit we will be free of unelected, arrogant bullies like you and run our own country.
“Sounds more like heaven to me.”
Welsh Tory Stephen Crabb said: “Extraordinary. Esp given how smug some EU officials have been about how good they are at the diplomacy thing.”
Ms Kuenssberg was swift to point out that this was coming from a “fully paid up member of Tory moderate brigade.”
The Political Editor of the Sun reeled: “Yowsers. Donald Tusk says there will be “a special place in hell” for those who advocated Brexit without defining what it really meant. I suspect he might mean you Boris.”
And Sky’s deputy political editor said that she was “surprised at the strength of language”, before asking Tory MP Pauline Latham for her reaction.
Ms Latham was livid, blasting: “I was shocked.
“I think any international leader, which he is, should not be talking in those terms.
“He’s actually being very derogatory about the people in this country who voted for Brexit.
“Because they did, decisively, whatever anybody says it was a decisive vote and we should be respecting that.
“And he’s not respecting that at all.”
BBC Brussels editor Adam Fleming humorously tweeted: “An EU official has clarified that @eucopresident meant when the people he was referring to are … dead. Not right now.”
The Prime minister’s official spokesman diplomatically said: “It’s a question for Donald Tusk whether he considers the use of that kind of language to be helpful.”
Mr Tusk’s comments came as he repeated the EU’s insistence that the Withdrawal Agreement reached with Theresa May last year cannot be reopened to remove the backstop arrangement for the Irish border.
He was speaking alongside Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar following talks in Brussels in which they discussed preparations for what Mr Tusk described as the “fiasco” of a no-deal Brexit on March 29.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister began a round of meetings with Northern Ireland’s political leaders in her hunt for a breakthrough on the Irish backstop impasse.
She is due to meet Mr Tusk as well as European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on a visit to Brussels on Thursday.