The EU parliament's top Brexit negotiator wants to find a way for Britons to keep EU membership rights

Mark Sands
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The UK voted to leave the European Union on 23 June. (Source: Getty)

MEPs want to find a way to allow some UK citizens to keep European Union membership rights, the EU parliament's chief negotiator has said.

Less than 24 hours after Prime Minister Theresa May formally launched Brexit talks, MEP and former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said the European Parliament does not want to “take revenge” on Britain.

Speaking to Sky News earlier today, Verhofstadt said: “We need to mitigate and find a solution for those UK citizens who want still to keep a link with Europe. They are losing their rights as EU citizens without their will, outside of their will.”

Read More: May sticks to her plan for two years of Brexit negotiations

The European parliament, which is able to veto the Brexit agreement, will meet next week in Strasbourg to discuss negotiating priorities.

And Verhofstadt said that ending uncertainty for British and EU nationals currently living overseas should be an early focus for talk.

“We have to end this uncertainty for the citizens,” he said. “Our priority is to do it even before talking about money, about the financial settlement.”

Verhofstadt said that he found May's letter to EU council president Donald Tusk “constructive”, but bemoaned the Prime Minister's reference to security arrangements in relation to trade talks.

“You cannot use, or abuse I should say, the security of citizens to have then a good deal on something else,” he said.

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