Brexit extension not justified say French ministers

There is no justification for putting off Brexit any more than a few days - if that - French ministers said yesterday.

23 October 2019
By Oliver Rowland

Speaking in the National Assembly, Europe and Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves le Drian said: “Today, at this stage, we think that a new extension is not justified”.

Any extension would have to be agreed unanimously by the 27 EU heads of state or government; Germany is expected to support an extension and President Macron has not yet given his view officially.

Mr Le Drian made his comment in answer to a question from LREM MP Brigitte Liso who said she was tired of “internal political struggles” in the UK holding matters up and taking time, money and energy.

“We have to ask the British again the main question: they need to tell us is it yes or no," he added.

“It’s important for it to be announced, otherwise it will be no-deal, which is not the solution we prefer."

Meanwhile Amélie de Montchalin, junior minister for Europe, told senators : « At the end of the week we will see if a purely technical extension of a few days is justified, so that the British parliament can finish off its parliamentary procedure.

“Apart from that, an extension aimed at gaining more time or discussing the exit agreement again is out of the question.”

She added: “We are not changing our position. We have lost too much time, we have found a deal and now it is necessary to put it into action without delay to stop the uncertainty which is penalising millions of citizens and businesses.”

It comes as European Council President Donald Tusk said on Twitter that he is recommending to the EU leaders that there should be an extension “in order to avoid a no-deal Brexit”.

He is advising that it could be agreed by a “written procedure”, without the need for an emergency summit in Brussels.

Inside sources have been quoted saying a decision may come as early as tomorrow or as late as next week.

The 27 European ambassadors are due to meet for discussions today to help pave the way.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was obliged by the Benn Act to send a letter to the EU Council asking for an extension to the end of January, after the British MPs failed to ratify the Brexit deal on Saturday.

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