Juncker and Tusk: Britain could still change its mind on Brexit
Brexit can still be stopped if the British people have a change of heart, according to two key EU figures.
European Council president Donald Tusk made an impassioned plea, saying EU “hearts are still open” to “our British friends”. He was backed up by Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.
The comments were seized on by Remain supporters but sparked anger among Brexiteers.
Speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Mr Tusk said: “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’? We here on the continent haven’t had a change of heart – our hearts are still open to you.”
Mr Juncker backed the comments by his colleague, and added: "I hope that will be heard clearly in London."
Ian Murray, a leading supporter of anti-Brexit campaign Open Britain, welcomed the gesture and said the UK could rethink.
“Until we've actually left, Brexit is a reversible process, that much is clear. If people decide that Brexit isn't the right path for the country, they have the right to change their minds," he said.
He called again for the Government to publish legal advice on whether Brexit can be reversed.
Labour MP Daniel Zeichner also broke with party ranks to back the EU bigwigs, arguing a "more realistic assessment of how isolation from Europe would affect" the UK was becoming apparent.
"The world has moved on since the summer of 2016, and in a time of great political division and tension across the world, it seems ever more foolish to stray from our European neighbours," he said.
However, high-profile Leave campaigner Bernard Jenkin dubbed the comments “absurd”.
“Nobody serious wants another referendum in this country on this question," he told Sky News show All Out Politics.
"The referendum was won by the Leave campaign, against the odds and against expectation, because nobody could find anything good to say about the European Union during the campaign.
“All we had was fear from the Government about if we chose to leave. Most of those fears have not been realised."
'NO BETTER DEAL'
Meanwhile, the European parliament's Brexit chief Guy Verhofstadt insisted the UK would not be able to negotiate a final Brexit deal that trumps EU membership.
“What we will never allow as a Parliament is that at the end you can have a better position, a better status outside the European Union, than inside the European Union," he explained to MEPs.
“Inside the European Union will always be the best solution for every European country and European state.”
There has been no official response from Downing Street or the Labour party to the comments.