Brexit negotiator backs Brits paying for European Union passports

Photo / 123rf
Photo / 123rf

Brits desperate to cling to their European Union connections would be able to pay for the privilege under proposals backed by a chief negotiator of the Brexit deal.

Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament's lead negotiator in the split, has told The Times he supports the idea of Britons being able to pay Brussels for individual citizenship after their country leaves the EU.

"Many say 'we don't want to cut our links'," the former Belgian prime minister said.

"I like the idea that people who are European citizens and saying they want to keep it have the possibility of doing so. As a principle I like it."

Verhofstadt, who has been accused to "mischief-making" over the proposal, is unashamedly unsupportive of the Brexit vote outcome, and has vowed to fight for the "rights of the 48 per cent" of British voters who chose "Remain" when they cast their ballots in the June referendum.

Prime Minister Theresa May has vowed to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty by March, setting the ball rolling on two-years of negotiations to set the terms of the divorce.

Trade and immigration are set to be the key issues, with European leaders saying they will not compromise on open borders within the bloc.

Brexit-supporting MP Andrew Bridgen accused Verhofstadt of trying to sow division in Britain.

"It's an attempt to create two classes of UK citizen and to subvert the referendum vote," he told The Times.

"The truth is that Brussels will try every trick in the book to stop us leaving."

Former British prime minister Tony Blair, who is pro-European, this week argued the UK's exit from the European Union could be stopped.

In an interview with the New Statesman, the former Labour leader suggested voted had the power to decide if the pain of leaving the world's biggest trading bloc outweighs the benefits of leaving.

"It can be stopped if the British people decide that, having seen what it means, the pain-gain cost-benefit analysis doesn't stack up," he said.

"I'm not saying it will (be stopped), by the way, but it would. I'm just saying: until you see what it means, how do you know?"

The June 23 Brexit vote took many investors and chief executives by surprise, triggering the deepest political and financial turmoil in Britain since World War II and the biggest ever one-day fall in sterling against the dollar.

While most British politicians agree the referendum result means a divorce must happen, some EU leaders have openly speculated over whether Britain might reconsider the divorce.

But May has repeatedly said: "Brexit means Brexit."

- With AFP

- news.com.au

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