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  1. ITV Report

UK will live to regret voting for Brexit - Jean Claude Juncker

The president of the European Commission says Britain will regret voting for Brexit.

Jean-Claude Juncker believes the UK's exit from the European Union will be "sad and tragic" but "not the be all and end all".

In a speech setting out the future direction of the bloc, he said the EU would move on.

He insisted the "wind is back in Europe's sails" and countries were knocking on Brussels' door to do trade deals with the EU.

Britain is set to leave the EU in 2019. Credit: PA

Setting out hopes for closer integration, Mr Junckerannounced plans to increase passport-free movement around the EU, expand use of the euro and boost the number of member states.

But the hour-long speech, which ranged over areas as diverse as the quality of fish fingers to plans to create a super-presidency role, Brexit was given a notably short slot near the end.

Mr Juncker said: "This will be a very sad and tragic moment in our history. We will always regret this, and I think that you will regret it as well, soon.

"Nonetheless we have to respect the will of the British people. But we are going to make progress. We will move on because Brexit isn't everything, it's not the future of everything, it's not the be all and end all."

British citizenship will not have the same meaning after Brexit, experts warn. Credit: PA

Mr Juncker said he wanted use of the euro, membership of the Schengen agreement, which abolishes internal borders, and the banking union set up after the eurozone crisis to become standard.

He said it was "high time" to bring Romania and Bulgaria into the passport-free travel area and Croatia should follow soon.

Mr Juncker said the euro is destined to become the common currency of the "entire" European Union.

More countries will become EU members but Turkey will not become a member for the "foreseeable future", he said.

Europe is not a fortress and must be open to asylum seekers, he added.

New proposals on the "opening up of paths of legal migration" will be set out in the coming weeks but more action will be taken to return people who are in the EU illegally, he said.

Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage said the EU had 'learned nothing' from Brexit. Credit: PA

Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage described Mr Juncker's address as "the most open, honest and truly worrying" speech he had heard in his time as an MEP.

"The message is very clear," said Mr Farage. "Brexit has happened, full steam ahead."

Addressing the Parliament in response to Mr Juncker's speech, Mr Farage added: "All I can say is, 'Thank God we're leaving'.

"You have learned nothing from Brexit. If you had given (David) Cameron concessions, particularly on immigration, the Brexit vote - I have to admit - would never, ever have happened.

"And yet the lesson you take is that you are going to centralise and move on to this very worrying, undemocratic union."

Mr Farage said Mr Juncker's vision for the future EU of 27 included a single powerful president, a finance minister with authority to intervene in nation states and "a stronger European army in a militarised EU with a stronger and perhaps more aggressive foreign policy".

He said this amounted to "more Europe in every single direction, and all of it to be done without the consent of the people".

Proposals to exclude "extremists" from receiving EU funding for European Parliament elections, run on a continent-wide party list basis, would mean "genuine democratic parties of opposition will not be able to compete on the same playing field", said Mr Farage.