French president Emmanuel Macron stepped up stress on Theresa Might to clarify her plan for attaining Brexit, as he resisted calls for from different EU leaders for a compromise that will grant the UK prime minister a prolonged extension.
At an emergency EU summit in Brussels two days earlier than the UK’s newest deadline to go away, Mr Macron warned that the UK had failed to offer credible proposals for a way a protracted delay would finish the stalemate within the British parliament.
“There’s no justification at this stage to commit ourselves to a protracted extension,” a senior French official mentioned as negotiations continued into the night time.
EU diplomats mentioned Mr Macron took a troublesome line with Mrs Might when she offered her case for an extra extension.
The French president advised her, based on one diplomat, that by the eve of the European elections on Might 23 she must inform the EU whether or not the UK would approve its present withdrawal settlement, was leaving with no deal, or whether or not it could abandon Brexit.
Mr Macron advised different leaders that June 30 was the utmost extension he was ready to supply, though Angela Merkel of Germany and others have advocated a for much longer delay with the intention to keep away from a extremely disruptive no-deal British departure from the union.
Mrs Might has publicly requested a delay till June 30, however UK officers are telling their EU colleagues that she could be content material to have a considerably longer extension.
“What’s vital is that any extension permits us to go away on the level at which we ratify a withdrawal settlement,” she mentioned. Mrs Might hopes to finalise a deal earlier than European elections on Might 23.
However, with cross-party talks at Westminster making little progress, Mr Macron steered the EU ought to solely grant Britain a brief delay to maintain stress on the UK parliament to resolve the deadlock.
Mr Macron advised Britain “the time for selections is now”, at the same time as Ms Merkel referred to as for leaders to indicate persistence and keep away from a disorderly exit.
The French president’s objections are the principle impediment to the German chancellor and different EU leaders suspending Brexit day for as much as a yr, with the Home of Commons being given the choice to go away earlier if an exit treaty is ratified.
Mr Macron mentioned: “I’m impatient to listen to Theresa Might. For me nothing is assured, nothing, significantly after I hear the rumours, no lengthy extension [is guaranteed],” he mentioned as he arrived.
Senior EU diplomats see a compromise doubtlessly rising with Paris that will restrict an extension to round six months in order that Britain would go away no later than the autumn, when a brand new European Fee and president of the European Council take workplace. This might enable Mr Macron to indicate Britain could be unable to disrupt his plans for a “European renaissance”.
The situations demanded by Paris embrace a dedication by Britain to abstain from utilizing its veto powers over EU selections that will have an effect on occasions after it had left, and so they may additionally require London to surrender its proper to have a commissioner in Brussels.
Most European leaders expressed their openness to an extended extension earlier than the summit, stressing that it could be essential to keep away from the UK leaving with no deal.
Ms Merkel advocated giving a “respectable period of time” to Brexit negotiations that Mrs Might had begun with the UK opposition Labour celebration. The chancellor added that the delay authorised by the EU could be “longer than the prime minister requested for”.
“The extension ought to be as quick as attainable nevertheless it also needs to give us a sure diploma of calm so we don’t must take care of this problem each two weeks,” she mentioned.
Aware of Mrs Might’s earlier underwhelming performances in entrance of the bloc’s leaders and the significance of her presentation, one EU prime minister coached the UK chief by way of her speaking factors forward of the summit.
“We want to hear the view on the course forward,” mentioned a senior EU diplomat.
Leo Varadkar, Eire’s prime minister, mentioned he was “very assured” that Mrs Might would safe some type of Brexit extension. “The important thing factor we’ll need to know from her is what the plan is, and what the prospects are,” he mentioned.
The Irish taoiseach additionally made the case for the UK to enter a customs union with the EU after Brexit — a central demand of Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour chief.
“We might be beneficiant in negotiating that, understanding that the UK couldn’t be a silent associate in such an association,” Mr Varadkar mentioned. “It must have a say in selections made.”
France’s fast-changing listing of calls for has exasperated another member states, who have been uncertain that Mr Macron would hinder a deal for a protracted extension. One senior eurozone official mentioned the French proposals have been “confused”. The official mentioned: “They appear to have misplaced their bearings”.
Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaitė harassed that Britain shouldn’t be bullied. Requested concerning the situations that ought to be hooked up to a Brexit delay, she mentioned: “The principle situation is to organise European elections. The remainder is, in my private opinion, out of the vary of the European treaties.”
“I assist [Mrs May] as a result of I’ve not seen in my life any chief who has such stamina, energy and persistence,” Ms Grybauskaitė added.
The summit on Wednesday was the second time in lower than a month that EU leaders have been requested to resolve on a Brexit delay. “I’m nonetheless ready for Godot,” mentioned Xavier Bettel, the Luxembourg prime minister. “The final time he was not there, and this time once more he has not made it.”
Reporting by Alex Barker, George Parker, Jim Brunsden, Victor Mallet, Man Chazan and Mehreen Khan