France threatens to veto another Brexit delay after saying there is 'no justification' for a long extension

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson poses with French President Emmanuel Macron during a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, October 17, 2019. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/Pool

  • France has threatened to resist attempts by the EU to offer a Brexit extension until next year.
  • The EU has indicated that it will offer Britain an extension until January 31.
  • But each member state has a veto and French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Tuesday: 'At this stage, we consider that there is no justification for a new extension.'
  • EU officials will be confident that Macron will accede to demands from other member states and the European Commission to offer an extension.

France could resist attempts to hand Britain another Brexit extension after its foreign minister said there was "no justification" for another long delay.

The European Council President Donald Tusk on Tuesday indicated that the EU will offer Britain an extension until January after Boris Johnson "paused" attempts to fast-track Brexit legislation through parliament by the October 31 deadline.Advertisement

Read more: What the hell just happened with Brexit and where will we end up next?

However, each member state has a veto on any such offer, and French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said late on Tuesday night that he did not support an extension.

"The main question must be asked to the British who need to say as soon as possible if it's a yes or a no [to accepting the Withdrawal Agreement Bill] because you're right to say we've been waiting for this decision for the last three years," he said.

"At this stage, we consider that there is no justification for a new extension."

France has taken a particularly hardline approach to Britain's attempts to leave the EU and French president Emmanuel Macron also threatened to veto an extension this week. He said: "I am not trying to read into the future but I do not think we shall grant any further delay.Advertisement

"I think it is a time to put an end to these negotiations and move on to the future relationship."

However, EU officials are confident that Macron is only using the threat of a veto as a means of putting political pressure on parliament to make a decision, and that he will accede to demands from other member states and the European Commission to offer an extension.

He threatened to veto an earlier Article 50 extension request in April before quickly backing down at a summit of EU leaders.Advertisement

Britain heads for another Brexit delay

Donald Tusk

Boris Johnson has made a "do-or-die" pledge to deliver Brexit by October 31. However, his government was forced to acknowledge in the UK parliament on Tuesday that a delay was inevitable.

Donald Tusk, the European Council president, on Tuesday said he would recommend to heads of state and government that he would recommend that they sign off the UK's request for an extension until January 31.Advertisement

"Following PM's decision to pause the process of ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, and in order to avoid a no-deal #Brexit, I will recommend the EU27 accept the UK request for an extension," he tweeted. "For this I will propose a written procedure."

It came after MPs approved the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in principle, but rejected the government's timetable which could have fast-tracked the legislation into law by the end of the week.

If passed, the motion would have forced MPs to hold 12-hour sessions and sit at the weekend in order to secure parliamentary approval for key pieces of Brexit legislation in time for the Halloween exit date.Advertisement

Johnson said he was disappointed by the decision to delay passage of his deal and would therefore "pause" the legislation so that he could speak to EU leaders about how to proceed.

He told MPs: "I must express my disappointment that the House has again voted for delay rather than a timetable that would have guaranteed that the UK would be in a position to leave the EU on October 31 with a deal. "And we now face further uncertainty and the EU must now make up their minds over how to answer Parliament's request for a delay."Advertisement

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