Today, the foreign minister of France said that the request of the United Kingdom for a delay to Brexit will be turned down by the European Union if Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, cannot provide sufficient assurances that her parliament will approve the divorce deal that she negotiated.
The position of France was markedly tougher in tone as compared to the public rhetoric out of Berlin, where the foreign minister of Germany only said that an orderly departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union would solve the Brexit turmoil.
Today, May requested for a three-month delay to Brexit to buy some time to get her twice-rejected departure deal through the British parliament. Her request came just nine days before the United Kingdom is formally scheduled to leave the European Union, the most recent twist in the more than two years of negotiations that have left the politics of Britain in chaos.
Jean-Yves Le Drian informed the French National Assembly: “A situation in which Mrs May was not able to present to the European Council sufficient guarantees of the credibility of her strategy would lead to the extension request being dismissed and opting for a no-deal exit.”
A senior official in the office of Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, said that May had requested a “technical extension.” This suggested that the approval would be conditional on the British parliament approving the withdrawal agreement that is negotiated by PM May.
Any extension has to be approved by all of the 27 members of the European Union remaining in the bloc.
In recent weeks, Germany has seemed to adopt a more conciliatory stance. a source familiar with the diplomatic effort said that Berlin and Paris are discussing their response to the delay request of May. He said that Macron and Chancellor Angela Merkel are scheduled to meet on Thursday in Brussels, on the sidelines of an EU summit.
In a speech in Berlin, Heiko Maas, the Foreign Minister of Germany, said that he expected the leaders of the European Union to make a decision on how to proceed with the request of PM May at that summit.
Maas told a news conference in Berlin: “We’d like to know where it leads.”
He added: “We’ve always said that if the (European) Council has to decide on a deadline extension for Britain, then we’d like to know why and what for.”