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France to veto another Brexit delay unless UK ends its political chaos

Boris Johnson with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian
Boris Johnson with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian

By Rob Merrick

Boris Johnson may not get a Brexit extension even if he asks, the French government has indicated.

France will veto a further delay to Brexit unless the UK ends the chaos and tells the EU what it wants, the country's foreign minister has warned.

"In the current circumstances, it's 'no'. We are not going to go through this every three months," Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

The warning threatens the UK with a crash-out Brexit on October 31, even if Boris Johnson accepts parliament's order to seek another Article 50 extension.

"The [British] say that they want to put forward other solutions, alternative arrangements so that they can leave," Mr Le Drian said, referring to the Irish backstop logjam.

"But we have not seen them and so it is 'no' - let the British authorities tell us the way forward.

"Let them take responsibility for their situation, they have to tell us what they want."

Emmanuel Macron has long been identified as the most hardline EU leader, in contrast to Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, who is willing to give the UK more time.

However, it had been assumed the French president would not "do a de Gaulle" - echoing his predecessor's veto of the UK joining the then-EEC in the 1960s -if the UK held a general election, or Final Say referendum.

But an ally of Mr Macron warned last week that he feared there was not "a sufficient level of trust" about the UK's intentions towards the EU.

Since then, No 10 has threatened to defy a law instructing it to seek an extension - and unveiled a plan to paralyse EU decision-making, to force it to bend to its will.

In her devastating resignation letter, Cabinet minister Amber Rudd accused the Prime Minister of misleading the country over wanting to avoid a no-deal Brexit. "I no longer believe leaving with a deal is the government's main objective," the former Work and Pensions Secretary wrote.

Today, Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, invited ridicule, when he claimed the government had failed to put forward new proposals to secure a Brexit deal for fear the EU would leak them.

"What we are slightly reticent about doing, given past experience, is putting pieces of paper that will get leaked and rubbished by the other side," he said.

It is now clear that, regardless of the law to command a request to delay Brexit, Mr Johnson will not ask for it at the crucial EU summit on October 17. Instead, if no fresh deal is agreed, he will defy the order to ensure the controversy goes before the Supreme Court, with the deadline for crashing out just days away.

Belfast Telegraph


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