In Brief

EU’s ‘heart still open to UK’, says Tusk

European Council President extends olive branch to Britain as call for second EU referendum grows

The UK would be welcomed back into the EU if it changed its mind about Brexit, Donald Tusk has said.

 As support for a second EU referendum grows on this side of the Channel, the European Council President appealed to the UK directly, telling MEPs that “our hearts are still open for you”.

He also quoted the Brexit Secretary David Davis, who famously said in 2012: “If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy”.

Tusk’s comments were welcomed by those Labour and Lib Dem MPs who want a referendum on the final Brexit deal. Last week, former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, and the party’s main financial backer Arron Banks, added their voices to the growing call for a second vote. Farage said a second referendum was necessary to “kill the debate for a generation” and claimed people would vote to leave the EU in greater numbers than did in 2016.

Both Downing Street and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn have repeatedly ruled out another vote on the EU, however.

Richard Rice, the co-chair of pro-Brexit group Leave Means Leave, told the BBC Brussels had a history of not listening to the views of others and said the decision to leave the EU will not be reversed “despite the best efforts” of those in power.

A similar point was made by arch-Brexiteer and Tory MEP Daniel Hannan, who said on Twitter: “If Tusk and Jean-Claude Junker truly wanted Britain to stay in the EU, they’d propose a looser arrangement. Their refusal to contemplate such things explains why we’re leaving”.

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