March 10, 2017 / 8:21 AM / 4 months ago

Britons should retain EU rights after Brexit, Verhofstadt tells BBC

2 Min Read

The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt addresses the European Parliament after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker presented a white paper on options for shoring up unity once Britain launches its withdrawal process, in Brussels, Belgium, March 1, 2017.Yves Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - The lead Brexit negotiator for the European Parliament wants to ensure that Britons can retain the benefits of European Union citizenship after the UK leaves the block, he told BBC radio on Friday.

Guy Verhofstadt said last year's Brexit vote was a tragedy for both the UK and the EU but said he hoped to convince European leaders to allow Britons to retain a number of rights if they were applied for on an individual basis.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May will trigger Article 50 of the European Union's Lisbon Treaty to launch two years of divorce talks later this month.

Verhofstadt noted that all British citizens as EU citizens currently enjoy benefits such as consular aid, participation in European elections and freedom of travel.

"We need to have an arrangement in which this arrangement can continue for those citizens who on an individual basis are requesting it," he said.

Verhofstadt also said there were several issues on which the European Parliament was not prepared to compromise and he warned it could use its power to veto any deal it did not like.

Writing by James Davey; editing by Kate Holton

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