Don't waste time, EU Brexit chief tells Britain

Chancellor Philip Hammond will reportedly argue for the United Kingdom to stay in the European Union's customs union in a bid to soften Brexit and alter Theresa May's approach.

In January, May outlined her vision of a clean break with the European Union, saying that she wanted Britain to be able to make its own trade deals while maintaining trade with Europe that was as "frictionless as possible".

Unidentified sources told the newspaper that Hammond will urge the government to rethink its plan to leave the trade group, which guarantees tariff-free trade with other members but bans trade deals with third parties.

A Treasury spokeswoman declined to comment on the report.

Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament's Brexit coordinator, said that Brexit can be halted, but if Britain reversed course it should not expect to keep getting its EU budget rebates or opt-outs from key EU rules.

The liberal former Belgian prime minister is a proponent of much closer integration with national governments giving up more powers to Brussels.

In a punchy intervention created to hike the pressure on Downing Street, he is also asking how last week's election result will affect the position on issues like Single Market membership, after days of speculation of a softer approach to Brexit from Prime Minister Theresa May.

Labour MPs and pro-European Tories have reportedly been holding private talks to discuss how bills might be amended to keep the United Kingdom inside the customs union and leave open the possibility of staying in the single market. The early vote was called by incumbent Prime Minister Theresa May in an effort to strengthen the mandate of the Conservative Party amid the looming Brexit talks.

Mrs May has come under pressure in the wake of the shock election result to moderate her approach to Brexit, with the loss of her majority seen as a rejection of her intention to take Britain out of the single market, exit the customs union and end freedom of movement from the continent.

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