France threatens to block Brexit extension
Attempts by the UK parliament to delay Brexit will not work because France will block any extension unless the political crisis in London is resolved, according to the French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
He said the October 31 deadline will not be extended by Brussels, despite a new law saying that Brexit must be postponed if no deal has been agreed with the European Union.
The commentary does not mention Ireland, which is on the sharp end of a Brexit crisis and will probably force France into taking a softer line than its politicians are taking at the moment.
Le Drian told the Europe 1 radio station: “It’s very worrying. The British must tell us what they want. We are not going to do this every three months.”
Irritation with the new anti-EU government has been further fuelled by the decision to pull UK representatives out of EU meetings as London says it is “unshackling” from Brussels.
“They have taken people out of these meetings so they can work on no-deal but then they have to ring round the member states begging for reports of what is being discussed,” one EU diplomat told the Guardian. “It just becomes more ridiculous by the day.”
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said MPs were “trying to wreck” his Brexit policy with the new law to block a no-deal divorce from the EU.
Other EU figures have pointed to a willingness to delay the October 31 deadline to allow a general election or another referendum. A general election might well fail to give a clear indication about how British voters feel about Brexit with parties campaigning on other issues as well.
Johnson’s team has suggested that if the embattled prime minister was forced to postpone Brexit, he would not nominate a European commissioner. This would confuse the EU’s institutions and prevent them from working properly.
The Guardian suggested this threat would be enough to dissuade the EU from offering an extension.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he opposed a lengthy extension earlier in the year. Former French ambassador Pierre Sallal said trust had broken down between London and Brussels.
He told the BBC: “Maybe what is missing today is this trust about the way your country sees its future with the European Union.
“In this regard, I believe that the situation has been deteriorating. It is very difficult to have the necessary trust that could justify a new examination of a new date.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she is prepared to grant the EU more time.
France has taken a dim view of the Brexit crisis. Picture credit: Eurasia Times