You can change your mind on Brexit, top European Union official tells UK

Brexit news- Michel Barnier and Steven Woolfe

Updating the European Parliament on a summit he chaired last month at which EU leaders agreed to open talks with London on their post-Brexit future, European Council President Donald Tusk took the opportunity to support those calling for a rethink.

In his speech, Tusk said Brexit is set to become a reality "unless there is a change of heart among our British friends".

Referring to a comment about the reversibility of the 2016 referendum vote to leave by Britain's Brexit minister, Tusk then added: "Wasn't it David Davis himself who said "If a democracy can not change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy"?"

In an interview with the German newspaper Welt am Sonnag, Mr Hammond said: "We've had an election in the United Kingdom in the meantime which made it very clear that the British people have no appetite for changing our economic model".

"Our hearts are still open to you", Tusk reiterated.

"We must maintain the unity of the EU27 in every scenario, and personally I have no doubt that we will".

Mr Verhofstadt also highlighted the British government's announcement that it would revert to a blue passport design after Brexit - with the Belgian MEP pointing out that such a passport change "was perfectly possible inside the EU".

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According to revised draft negotiation directives obtained by Bloomberg, the European Union has stepped up the demands for concessions that Britain must make during the transition period that follows Brexit, pushing back the cut-off date for the acquisition of rights for European Union citizens.

In a referendum on 23 June 2016, 51.9% of the participating United Kingdom electorate voted to leave the EU.

Tory backbencher Anna Soubry, one of those to attend, said: "One of the reasons that we came over was to make it very clear that as parliamentarians we are not bystanders in the process of our leaving the European Union".

Speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg this morning, Mr Tusk said: "As regards our future relations, what we need today is more clarity on the UK's vision".

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker later backed Mr Tusk's speech, saying he hoped the message "will be heard clearly in London".

Work is continuing on how Britain might continue to take part in free trade agreements between the European Union and other countries during the transition and on how and whether the transition might be extended beyond December 31, 2020.

"A small group of countries on the west coast of Europe is hit very hard in the economy by Brexit, which applies primarily to Ireland, but also to the Netherlands, Denmark, Spain and a number of other countries", Hoekstra said in interview with Dutch TV station RTL Z.

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