Macron: May must offer a ‘new choice’ to enable Article 50 extension

French President Emmanuel Macron. Photo by Ugo Amez/Pool/ABACAPRESS.COM

French President Emmanuel Macron. Photo by Ugo Amez/Pool/ABACAPRESS.COM - Credit: ABACA/PA Images

French president Emmanuel Macron has suggested the UK will need a good reason to delay its scheduled departure from the European Union on March 29.

Theresa May has said she will allow MPs to vote on an extension to the two-year negotiation period set down in the EU's Article 50 if she has not secured Parliament's approval for her deal by March 12.

But May's climbdown has taken much of the sting out of the occasion, with no resignations expected and the amendment's tabler Dame Caroline Spelman indicating she may not force it to a vote if she receives adequate reassurance on the PM's intentions.

Also selected was an amendment from Labour's Yvette Cooper, simply restating Mrs May's promises in the hope of pinning her down to them with a motion passed by the House.

Any extension of Article 50 will require the unanimous agreement of the remaining 27 EU states.

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But Macron said that any request from Britain would need to be justified by 'a clear perspective on the goal,' adding: 'We don't need time, we need decisions.'

Speaking at a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris, the French president said: 'We would support an extension request only if it was justified by a new choice of the British.'

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Merkel said: 'If Great Britain needs more time we will not oppose it but of course we are seeking an orderly exit. We regret this step, but it is reality and we now have to find a good solution.'

Meanwhile, Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez told the Madrid parliament he would not oppose an extension if it pointed the way to a resolution of the Brexit issue, but warned: 'Prolonging uncertainty by postponing deadlines is not a reasonable nor desirable alternative.'

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