French President Emmanuel Macron vows to block any Brexit delay without a 'clear objective'
French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to block any extension to Brexit unless there is a “clear objective” for the delay.
Speaking at a press conference alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris, Mr Macron warned Theresa May that France would use its veto power to prevent any extension to Article 50.
Any request from the Prime Minister to delay Brexit past 29 March would require the unanimous agreement of all 27 EU member states.
“We would support an extension request only if it was justified by a new choice of the British," he told reporters. “But we would in no way accept an extension without a clear objective.”
The comments follow Mrs May's vow to give MPs the opportunity to delay the UK’s exit if both her deal and the possibility of a no-deal departure are rejected.
She has been battling with EU leaders to secure legally-binding changes to the Irish backstop proposal contained within the deal, but has so-far failed to gain any concessions.
Speaking this morning, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez also cautioned Mrs May against requesting a delay from the EU without a “certain perspective of resolution”.
“Although Spain is not going to oppose the concession of an eventual extension, it must have a certain perspective of resolution,” he said.
“Prolonging uncertainty by postponing deadlines is not a reasonable nor desirable alternative.”
The Government has so far refused to confirm the length of any extension, but indicated it would probably not extend beyond the end of June.
In a Commons's statement on Tuesday, Mrs May said: “An extension beyond the end of June would mean the UK taking part in the European Parliament elections. What kind of message would that send to the more than 17 million people who voted to leave the EU nearly three years ago now?
"And the House should be clear that a short extension – not beyond the end of June – would almost certainly have to be a one-off. If we had not taken part in the European Parliament elections, it would be extremely difficult to extend again, so it would create a much sharper cliff edge in a few months’ time.”
Responding to the news of a possible extension, the European Parliament's Brexit co-odinator Guy Verhofstadt said it was now "time [for the UK] to decide" as he suggested the EU had been "taken hostage by Brexit".
“If this happens, this can never be longer than a couple of months so that cross-party majority can be found," he wrote. "The Union has been taken hostage by the Brexit for too long.
“The UK has had almost two years to make up its mind, now it is time to decide: A deal, no deal or stay.
“For the Union it is high time that we can spend our energy on more positive projects and the in depth reforms Europe desperately needs.”