Macron: EU May Not Grant Further Extension if MPs Reject New Brexit Deal

France's President Emmanuel Macron addresses media representatives at a press conference d
JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron has indicated that the European Union will not grant a further extension to Article 50 if British MPs vote down the new proposed exit deal.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU negotiators announced Thursday morning that they had agreed on an exit deal that removed the controversial Irish backstop. Later that day, the agreement was approved by the leaders of the other 27 Member States, known as the EU27.

British MPs will vote on the deal tomorrow. Reports suggest there may be enough votes to get the bill over the line. However, the DUP said it would reject the offer, as will the majority of the Opposition, meaning a loss for the government cannot be ruled out.

An extension to Article 50 — delaying Brexit for the third time — would also need to be approved by the EU27 unanimously. This means that one country’s veto could result in a clean-break Brexit.

Mr Macron said during a press conference at the end of the European Summit on Friday afternoon that he hopes the 31st of October deadline is “respected” and described the new deal as “good”.

The French president continued: “So that we can turn to the future I believe that we shall stick to the deadline of October 31.

“That being said, I’m not trying to read the future, but I do not think we shall grant any further delay.

“I believe it is now time to put an end to these negotiations and work on the future relationship and put an end to what is currently ongoing.

“Like I said, there shall be no delay unless there are some major changes.”

While European leaders, including Macron, have rejected extensions in the past, Brexit was delayed twice since the original exit date of March 29th, 2019.

However, October 31st represents not just Brexit Day, but the end of the current term for European institutions. Presidencies for key offices like of the European Council and the European Commission officially change hands on November 1st. In May, Mr Macron had said that he wants the UK out of the EU by Halloween to stop Brexit “polluting” the EU’s new agenda.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly said privately to EU leaders that a Brexit extension would be unavoidable if MPs rejected the new deal.

Similar inconsistencies in message came from Brussels bureaucrats on Thursday. President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said that Brexit “has to happen now” and that “there will be no other prolongation”.

However, hours later the president of the European Council, who chairs the council of leaders of European nations, appeared to contradict the president of the bloc’s powerful executive arm.

Donald Tusk said during a press conference: “I have no idea what will be the result of the debate in the House of Commons on Saturday.

“It’s not for me to comment on political developments in the UK. But if there’s a request for an extension, I will consult member states to see how to react.”


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