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Britons should be able to keep EU benefits after Brexit, says top negotiator

British citizens should be able to choose to keep various benefits of EU membership including the freedom of movement after Brexit, the European Parliament's chief negotiator has said.

Guy Verhofstadt said he hoped to convince European leaders to allow Britons to keep certain rights if they apply for them on an individual basis.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "All British citizens today have also EU citizenship. That means a number of things: the possibility to participate in the European elections, the freedom of travel without problem inside the union...

"We need to have an arrangement in which this arrangement can continue for those citizens who on an individual basis are requesting it."

But he also warned that the European Parliament will have veto powers and could reject any deal brokered between the UK and the European Commission.

He claimed to have received more than a thousand letters from UK citizens who do not want to lose their relationship with "European civilisation".

Mr Verhofstadt previously said the EU needs to be "open and generous" to individual UK citizens and said politicians were considering how to allow them to maintain their ties to the continent.

He told an audience at Chatham House in January: "We are scrutinising, thinking, debating how we could achieve that.

"That individual UK citizens would think their links with Europe are not broken."

Conservative MEP Vicky Ford said the UK and EU were not far from agreement on the key Brexit issues of the rights of expatriate citizens and the "divorce bill" of as much as 60 billion euro likely to be demanded from Britain on exit.

Ms Ford told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "On the principles on key issues like citizens' rights, both sides actually agree, they want to secure citizens' rights.

"There is a willingness on both sides to agree the principles on citizens' rights straight up.

"Both sides are very close on the money.

"The EU are saying they will only ask us to contribute what we've committed to and the Prime Minister is saying we don't walk away from commitments.

"If that principle is agreed, then we can move on."

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