Sadiq Khan launches bid for heartbroken Remainers to keep EU citizenship

London's mayor has launched a bid for millions of heartbroken Remainers to get EU citizenship.

Sadiq Khan made the plea for any British national to claim "associate citizenship" as he travelled to Brussels today ahead of talks on a Brexit trade deal.

The capital's Labour chief said the move would allow British citizens to keep many of the rights they held before Brexit, including the right to move freely between EU member states.

The idea was repeatedly floated by European Parliament Brexit chief Guy Verhofstadt and other EU politicians as a way of keeping ties across the English Channel.

But any prospect of it actually happening looks bleak – since the UK government plans to bring in a points-based immigration system and diverge from EU rules from 1 January 2021.

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Mr Khan said: "Like so many Londoners, I am heartbroken that we are no longer a member of the European Union, but that doesn't mean our country's future can't be closely linked with the rest of Europe.

"The Prime Minister says his job is to bring the country together and move us forward and I cannot think of a better way of reconciling the differences between British voters who wanted to leave, and the millions of Londoners and British nationals who still feel and want to be European.

"There would be support from millions of Londoners and British nationals who are devastated they are losing their rights as EU citizens.

"As the UK and EU start their next phase of negotiations, I want this issue of associate citizenship to be at the heart of talks about our future relationship."

Mr Khan was due to meet the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, and the president of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, during Tuesday's visit to the Belgium capital.

The idea of European citizenship has been backed by the former chairman of the European Parliament's Brexit steering group, Guy Verhofstadt.

He said: "The Maastricht Treaty created the concept of 'European citizenship' and I am in favour of using this now as a basis for people who want to keep their link with Europe.

"It is the first time in the history of our union that a member state leaves, but it is not because the UK Government wanted exit that individual citizens have to lose their connection with the continent."

But it was slammed today by independent mayoral candidate Rory Stewart, a former Tory minister.

He said: "This is only a sound bite – the policy cannot work. The Mayor has a responsibility to produce a much more detailed position on Brexit – that protects London. I have such a plan."

Shaun Bailey, the Tory candidate in the upcoming mayoral election, claimed: "Three more Londoners were stabbed on the weekend and a teenager is fighting for his life as we speak, and where is our mayor? In Brussels, announcing a gimmick he has no powers to implement."

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