FRANCE has warned Remainer MPs the EU won’t automatically grant another Brexit extension just to help them stop No Deal.
Emmanuel Macron’s Europe minister Amelie de Montchalin questioned why the bloc would agree to a further delay “without changing anything”.
Her remarks came after Michel Barnier told EU ambassadors that talks with Britain are now “in a state of paralysis” due to the turmoil in Westminster.
Separately, the EU Parliament’s Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt blasted Boris Johnson for claiming it was “surrender” to opposing No Deal.
“This is the language of Europe’s dark past,” he stormed. It implies Britain’s European allies and neighbours are enemies. I refuse to believe the majority of British people think this is the case.”
Speaking in France, Mme de Montchalin said it defied belief to think anything would change in Britain in six months – let alone a further three months.
Describing the situation in Westminster as a “bit blocked”, she said: “When I hear the British saying ‘give us three months more and we will solve the problem’, we can see that another six months would not solve the problem, nor another three months.
“They have to be able to tell us what they want. We know what they don’t want but we are still struggling to understand what they do want.”
HARDENING OF ATTITUDES
She spoke out amid a hardening of attitudes in Brussels and EU capitals towards granting Britain more time.
An EU diplomat said: “I think there is no extension at all unless there is a General Election. Why would we? For what purpose? Being the background music to the showdown in London has its limits.”
Mr Macron fought against granting Britain a long delay back in April, arguing Westminster would simply waste the time bickering.
He and chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the bloc should create intense time pressure on MPs as the best way of getting a deal through.
But he was outvoted by his fellow leaders, including Angela Merkel, who agreed to offer Theresa May a six-month delay to our exit date.
Now many EU diplomats concede the French president was right and Brussels should have insisted on Mrs May holding an election or second referendum.
A Commission spokeswoman said: “It’s up to the member states to unanimously agree to any request. Any such request would have to be for a good reason. Our working assumption is that Brexit should occur on October 31, as was demanded by the UK, on the basis of the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated.”
Mr Barnier has cancelled a planned visit to Northern Ireland on Monday, saying it would be “inappropriate” for him to speak given the turmoil in Westminster.
He said: “The UK is engaged in an intense political debate. In many respects, we have finally arrived at a moment of truth for the country.”
Yesterday the EU Commission reiterated its call for the UK to table “concrete proposals” for an alternative to the backstop.
EU sources said a meeting on Wednesday between Boris Johnson’s negotiator David Frost and Mr Barnier’s deputy Stephanie Riso yielded no new ideas.
It was claimed the PM had promised Council chief Donald Tusk during a meeting at the G7 on August 25 that he would table new ideas within a week.
MOST READ IN BREXIT
The Commission said: “For the talks to make progress it’s crucial that the EU receives concrete proposals on all changes the UK would like to see.”
A UK Government spokesman said that Mr Frost and Ms Riso discussed “a range of issues, particularly on the abolition of the backstop”.
He said: “They discussed the UK’s position that the backstop must be abolished for there to be a deal as well as the political declaration and the UK’s intention to agree an FTA. The Withdrawal Agreement has been rejected by parliament three times, so we must work together to find an alternative to the backstop as its terms are clearly unacceptable.”
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