Donald Tusk, the outgoing European Council (EC) President, has urged Britons who will vote in the UK's December 12 general election, to not "give up" on stopping Brexit.
Speaking at the College of Europe in Bruges, Tusk said on Wednesday: "Brexit may happen at the beginning of next year. I did everything in my power to avoid the confrontational no-deal scenario and extend the time for reflection and a possible British change of heart," the BBC reported/ "The UK election takes place in one month. Can things still be turned around? The only words that come to my mind today are simply: Don't give up," he added.
The European Union (EU) has accepted an extension to the Brexit deadline, meaning the UK is now due to leave at the end of January 2020.
Tusk, who is due to stand down from his role on December 1, has repeatedly hinted that he would like to see the UK stay in the bloc. But his comments, in the midst of an election campaign - were likely to be controversial.
He acknowledged this in his speech, adding his remarks were "something I wouldn't have dared to say a few months ago, as I could be fired for being too frank".
Tusk added that a "longing for the Empire" could be heard in the voices of Brexiteers who strive to make the UK "global again" through leaving the EU.
"But the reality is exactly the opposite. Only as part of a united Europe can the UK play a global role.
"One of my English friends is probably right when he says with melancholy that Brexit is the real end of the British Empire," he added.
Tusk will be replaced by former Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.
Tusk's intervention comes as Conservative leader and Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK Parliament was "paralysed" and had refused "time and again to honour the mandate of the people and to deliver Brexit", the BBC reported.
Johnson is hoping to win a majority in the December 12 election so that he can take the UK out of the EU on January 31, 2020 with the deal he negotiated with Brussels.
But Labour is promising to renegotiate that deal and put it to a referendum, with the option of remaining in the EU, if it wins the election - and smaller opposition parties were also campaigning to Remain.