The Liberal MEP Guy Verhofstadt picked up comments by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, on Monday that the door to the European Union would remain open to Britain during Brexit negotiations.
Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament's Brexit coordinator, said that Brexit can be halted, but if Britain reversed course it should not expect to keep getting its EU budget rebates or opt-outs from key EU rules.
Guy Verhofstadt suggested the United Kingdom will need to radically diminish itself to undo the triggering of Article 50, as Alice in Wonderland, in the Lewis Carol book, had to shrink herself to fit through a tiny door, he said. "It will be a brand new door, with a new Europe, a Europe without rebates, without complexity, with real powers and with unity".
"That being said a sovereign decision was taken by the British people and that is to come out of the European Union and I very much respect the decisions taken by the people, be it by the French people or the British people", he noted.
In an interview with CNN Money's Europe Editor Nina dos Santos, Verhofstadt said: "This needs to be done before March 29, 2019".
Brexit negotiations will begin next week despite the Conservative Party's stinging election performance last week, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed on Tuesday.
The UK also enjoys a permanent opt-out from joining the single currency and can pick and choose on some justice and police policies - special arrangements that irritate some politicians who think it makes the European Union too complicated.
He said: "Of course the door remains open, always open until the Brexit negotiations come to an end".
While British Prime Minister Theresa May insists she will follow the results of last year's Brexit referendum, her disastrous showing in elections last week has raised fresh questions about how - and if - Britain will leave the bloc.
"Their position on this was very similar to the Conservative position according to their manifesto". "I can't negotiate with myself", Barnier, the EU's Brexit negotiator, told European newspapers including The Financial Times.
They were meant to begin on June 19 but look unlikely to now as May tries to reach a political deal to stay in office.
Prime Minister Theresa May declared the start of two years of Brexit negotiations today (17 January) with a landmark speech setting out the UK's 12 priorities, including leaving the single market, a new negotiation on the EU customs union and a parliament vote on any final deal.
Social democrat leader Gianni Pittella, of Italy, added: "If you stake everything on a landslide, sometimes you lose everything".
But he warned against backsliding on Brexit, adding: "The only certainty in this mess is we will be leaving".
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