EU leaps on Farage's call for second referendum

EU leaps on Farage's call for second referendum


Nigel Farage’s call for a second Brexit referendum has been leapt on by senior EU figures.

They declared hearts on the continent are “still open” to Britain as New Year Brexit negotiations kicked off.

Brexit Secretary David Davis had his own words thrown back at him in a bid to leave the door open to continued EU membership.

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, declared in a speech to MEPs: “If the UK Government sticks to its decision to leave, Brexit will become a reality – with all its negative consequences – in March next year unless there is a change of heart among our British friends.

“Wasn’t it David Davis himself who said ‘if a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy’?”

Donald Tusk leaves Downing Street after talks with Theresa May
Donald Tusk warned of Brexit’s ‘negative consequences’

He added in a post on Twitter: “We here on the continent haven’t had a change of heart. Our hearts are still open for you.”

Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, echoed the sentiment, saying: “Our door still remains open, and I hope that will be heard in London.”

But there was great surprise among some MEPs at the possibility of a Brexit backtrack.

The European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt asked what Mr Farage had “put in the coffee or tea” after voicing support for a second poll on EU membership.

Jean-Claude Juncker: 'No agreement reached today'
Jean-Claude Juncker hoped the message would be ‘heard in London’

A more hardline approach was taken by other EU politicians.

Manfred Weber, leader of the European Parliament’s biggest political group, the EPP, blasted the UK Government over the return of blue passports.

“If I was a British citizen I would be deeply worried about the priorities of my government,” he said.

Mr Weber, who is a key ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, added: “The whole story is a scam, EU law does not say anything about passport colours.

“The blue passports are the first and the only real thing that the British Government have achieved in more than one-and-a-half years of negotiations.

“My message to London is please don’t complain anymore. Please stop complaining, please deliver.”

British Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Brexit Minister) David Davis addresses media representatives at the European Union Commission in Brussels on October 12, 2017
David Davis was quoted from a speech he gave in 2012

The David Davis quote mentioned by Mr Tusk came from a 2012 speech critical of the EU imposing irreversible laws on member states.

The European Council president’s remarks come after reports the EU will push for all of its citizens who arrive in Britain before the end of the decade to get permanent rights to live and work in the UK.

The position came in draft instructions drawn up for Brussels’ chief negotiator Michel Barnier, the Financial Times reported.

If accepted by the UK, it would see free movement continue after the proposed official exit day – 29 March 2019 – for around 18 months.

Multiple UK Government ministers, including Home Secretary Amber Rudd, have promised free movement will end the moment Britain leaves the EU.

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