EU leaders could block attempts to delay Brexit, warns Emmanuel Macron

<em>French President Emmanuel Macron has warned that the EU could block a proposal to delay Brexit (Picture: REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)</em>
French President Emmanuel Macron has warned that the EU could block a proposal to delay Brexit (Picture: REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)

European leaders could block proposals to delay Brexit, French president Emmanuel Macron has warned.

Mr Macron said any request by Britain to delay the Article 50 process would need to be justified by “a clear perspective on the goal,” adding: “We don’t need time, we need decisions.”

His comments come after Theresa May’s u-turn earlier this week which saw her announced that she would allow MPs to vote on an extension to Article 50 if she has not secured Parliament’s approval for her deal by March 12.

But any extension of Article 50 requires the unanimous agreement of the remaining 27 EU states and Mr Macron’s comments on Wednesday appeared to threaten to scupper any hopes of a delay.

<em>Mr Macron and other European leaders have called for decisions (Picture: PA)</em>
Mr Macron and other European leaders have called for decisions (Picture: PA)

Speaking at a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris, the French president said: “We would support an extension request only if it was justified by a new choice of the British.”

Mrs Merkel said: “If Great Britain needs more time we will not oppose it but of course we are seeking an orderly exit. We regret this step, but it is reality and we now have to find a good solution.”

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Meanwhile, Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez told the Madrid Parliament he would not oppose an extension if it pointed the way to a resolution of the Brexit issue.

But he warned: “Prolonging uncertainty by postponing deadlines is not a reasonable nor desirable alternative.”

Asked about Mr Macron’s remarks, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “It’s clear what the Prime Minister is trying to achieve which is to secure further assurance in relation to the backstop not being indefinite. That’s what we’re working towards…

“What the Prime Minister has said is that any extension from the EU would have to be agreed by member states and that they are not going to agree to an extension simply to provide for more time – that they would expect clarity on the UK’s position.”

The comments came as MPs were due to vote on various amendments selected by Speaker John Bercow following a debate in the Commons.

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