Tusk: EU's hearts are still open.
Byline: TORCUIL CRICHTON Westminster Editor
EUROPEAN Council president Donald Tusk yesterday made a plea for British voters to change their minds and stay in the European Union.
In an impassioned plea, Tusk said EU "hearts are still open to our British friends".
He was backed up by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, who agreed that Brexit can still be stopped if the British people change their minds.
Speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Tusk said: "If the UK Government sticks to its decision to leave, Brexit will become a reality, with all its negative consequences in March next year, unless there is a change of heart among our British friends."
He added: "Wasn't it David Davis himself who said, 'If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy'? "We here on the continent haven't had a change of heart - our hearts are still open to you."
Calling for continued unity among the remaining 27 members of the EU, he said: "The hardest work is still ahead of us and time is limited.
"We must maintain the unity of the EU27 in every scenario, and personally I have no doubt that we will."
Juncker backed the comments by his colleague, and added: "I hope that will be heard clearly in London."
The comments came as a leaked Commission paper suggested the EU are toughening their stance on the transition period after the official date of Brexit in March 2019.
It was claimed the EU will insist on free movement of people throughout the period, and permanent rights to settle for any EU nationals moving to the UK before the end of 2020.
Chief negotiator Michel Barnier is also set to insist that the UK will have to seek "authorisation" from Brussels to continue enjoying the benefits of the bloc's trade agreements with non-EU countries, it is believed.
Ian Murray, a leading supporter of anti-Brexit campaign Open Britain, welcomed Tusk's gesture.
The Labour MP for Edinburgh South said: "Until we've left, Brexit is a reversible process, that much is clear.
"If people decide that Brexit isn't the right path for the country, they have the right to change their minds."
Murray called again for the Government to publish legal advice on whether Brexit can be reversed.
The move came as the Commons voted against a Labour amendment that would protect devolution principles in the Brexit Bill.
The amendment seeking to remove the Bill's proposed restrictions on the ability of devolved governments to legislate on devolved matters was last night defeated by 321 votes to 297, a majority of 24.
SUPPORT Labour MP Ian Murray
PLEA Donald Tusk wants UK to stay