June 14, 2017 / 7:58 AM / in 2 months

Britain could stay in EU, but only on poorer terms: Verhofstadt

FILE PHOTO: An EU flag flies above Parliament Square during a Unite for Europe march, in London, Britain March 25, 2017.Peter Nicholls/File Photo

STRASBOURG (Reuters) - Britain is welcome to change its mind and stay in the European Union, but it should not expect to keep getting its EU budget rebates or complex opt-outs from EU rules, the European Parliament's Brexit coordinator said on Wednesday.

"Yesterday, Emmanuel Macron, the new French president, spoke about an open door. That if Britain changes its mind it would find an open door," Guy Verhofstadt told the chamber.

"I agree. But like Alice in Wonderland, not all the doors are the same. It will be a brand new door, with a new Europe, a Europe without rebates, without complexity, with real powers and with unity."

The liberal former Belgian prime minister is a proponent of much closer integration with national governments giving up more powers to Brussels. Like many on the continent, he has long criticized Britain's entitlement, negotiated by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, to get about half its EU budget contributions back as a rebate. Britain also enjoys many opt-outs from EU rules, including from ever joining the euro zone.

Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; @macdonaldrtr; editing by Philip Blenkinsop

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