The government has ruled out any post-Brexit deal that would make it easier for young Britons to live, study and work in the EU.

The European Commission (EC) said it would seek permission from EU member states to open negotiations on a “youth mobility scheme” for UK citizens aged 18-30.

Thousands of voters have already written to their MP to demand they accept the offer.

But a government spokesperson said there was no interest from the UK side, adding that “free movement within the EU was ended”.

The UK currently has individual youth mobility schemes with 13 countries, and the government said it preferred such bilateral arrangements over an EU-wide deal.

Labour also rejected the possibility of an EU-wide scheme, saying the party would “seek to improve the UK’s working relationship with the EU within our red lines – no return to the single market, customs union or free movement”.

On Thursday, the commission suggested Britain had expressed an interest in youth mobility deals with individual member states, adding an EU-wide approach would be preferable as it would ensure all members were treated equally.

A spokesman for the campaign group Stay European urged MPs to listen to British young people deserve these opportunities presented by the plan. He told The Independent: “The EU’s proposal for a youth mobility scheme for 18-30-year-olds would give British young people the renewed ability to live, study and work across the EU.

“It would also remove barriers to young EU citizens coming here to fill vital employment gaps.”

Rishi Sunak was told the EU are offering him a lifeline (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

He added: “MPs, whichever party they are from, should listen to young people who are desperate to be able to travel again in Europe.

“Rishi Sunak should realise that his government is hated by young people and the EU is offering him a lifeline.

“Labour should not dismiss this scheme because they will need both the support of young people to win the election and the hard work of young Europeans to implement their economic programme in office.

“We are hopeful that the EU’s negotiating abilities will prevail and this plan will go ahead.

“While it is not accurate to call it freedom of movement, it could be a stepping stone towards the return to freedom of movement that we want to see.”

EC vice-president Maros Sefcovic said Brexit had “hit young people in the EU and the UK who would like to study, work and live abroad particularly hard”.

The UK currently has individual youth mobility schemes with 13 countries, and the government said it preferred such bilateral arrangements over an EU-wide deal (PA Archive)

He added: “Today, we take the first step towards an ambitious but realistic agreement between the EU and the UK that would fix this issue. Our aim is to rebuild human bridges between young Europeans on both sides of the Channel.”

EU member states would have had to agree to the proposals first before any negotiations with the UK could begin.

But a UK government spokesperson said: “We are not introducing an EU-wide youth mobility scheme (YMS) – free movement within the EU was ended and there are no plans to introduce it.

“We have successful schemes with 13 countries, including Australia and New Zealand, and remain open to agreeing them with our international partners, including individual EU member states, where it’s in the UK’s interest and supports the skills and opportunities of our youth.”

Labour MP Stella Creasy blasted the Conservative’s “duplicity over Europe” even though her party also ruled out an EU-wide deal.

She wrote on X: “They’ve actively tried to negotiate youth visa scheme with several European countries. EU offered to short-circuit the process.

“Panicked by their Brexiteer backbenches they have rejected whole idea and youth opportunities with it.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said such an agreement would be a “win-win-win”.

He said: “Liberal Democrats have long been urging the government to negotiate a reciprocal youth mobility scheme with Europe.

“Of course, the details would need to be negotiated but no sensible UK government would reject this idea out of hand.”

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