The European Parliament could block Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal over the UK’s treatment of EU citizens, its Brexit coordinator has said.
Mr Verhofstadt urged his MEP colleagues to deny such consent to the British Parliament when it will come to rectify Boris Johnson’s withdrawal agreement unless the Prime Minister gives legal assurances to EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in the continent.
He blasted: “There is a consent to be given by this Parliament and I know that everybody says that this consent will be automatically because it’s like that.
“We have foreseen that the consent procedure will end in plenary on the 29th of January but in the meanwhile, there is a problem to be solved.
“I have received since the election in Britain hundreds and hundreds of letters and emails of British citizens living in Europe, panicking about their status.
“I have received hundreds of mails of EU citizens living in Britain, panicking about their status.
“And I think we need to solve that first before we give our consent on this Brexit treaty.
“Never citizens, British or European, can be the victim of this – in my opinion – not very intelligent choice of Brexit.
“And I want to do an appeal to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to be generous in his victory and to give all the European citizens and the British citizens alike living on the continent the full rights as they have today.
“Automatically, to all of them, no ifs no buts, as he always says.”
Home Office Minister of State Brandon Lewis said:
“EU citizens are our friends, colleagues and neighbours. We recognise the enormous contribution they make to the UK and we want them to stay.
“We have already provided certainty to over two million people who have been granted status through the EU Settlement Scheme. Our Scheme is free, there is plenty of support for applicants and more than a year left to apply.
“We have done far more than any other EU member state has done for British citizens, and it’s time they adopted a similarly generous approach.”