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May hit by double Brexit blow-Tusk says it’s not too late for the UK to change its mind

Theresa May has been hit with a double Brexit blow as the EU toughened up its terms for a transition period and Norway privately warned Brussels that giving in to the UK’s demands for a “special” trade deal could force it to rip up its own agreements with the bloc.

A paper on Michel Barnier’s demands for the transition period, leaked to the Guardian, reveals that the EU plans to insist on the free movement of people throughout the period and the inclusion of people moving to the UK before 31 December 2020 in any post-Brexit agreement on citizens’ rights.

The UK had at one time wanted the agreement on citizens to be limited to people who moved to the UK before 29 March 2017, when Theresa May triggered article 50.

The EU also insists that the UK will only continue to enjoy the benefits of trade agreements with non-EU countries if “authorised” by Brussels. The UK will also effectively be kept to the terms of the common fisheries policy, as previously revealed by the Guardian.

It is understood that the EU is not willing to commit to settling the terms of a transition deal by March, as hoped for by the UK.

UK still has time to change its mind about Brexit, EU chief Donald Tusk suggests.

Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament’s lead Brexit negotiator, spoke in the European parliament’s plenary session.

He said the next stage of the Brexit talks will be harder than the opening stage.

He said it is particularly important to secure the guarantees for citizens’ rights.

And he said he wants to ensure there is no cherry picking during the transition. “That is why he welcomes the new, toughened-up draft negotiating guidelines produced by the EU”, he added.

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