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Brexit delay 'worth considering': French minister

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Brexit delay 'worth considering': French minister
An anti-Brexit activist waves flags outside the Houses of Parliament in central London on Wednesday. Photo: Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP
09:09 CET+01:00
Any request by Britain to delay its departure from the European Union would be "worth considering", France's European Affairs minister said on Saturday.
But Nathalie Loiseau also told reporters that a Brexit deal agreed between London and Brussels, which has been rejected by the British parliament, could not be renegotiated.
 
"If a British government, backed by a majority in parliament -- which would constitute real progress -- came up with new ideas about the future of UK-EU relations (...) and asked us for a delay, that would be worth considering," she said.
 
"A delay is no solution, it is a means towards a solution," said Loiseau, who as junior minister reports to Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
 
 
"There has to be a new and credible political objective," she told a news conference during a youth rally for President Emmanuel Macron.
 
"That means a British government has to propose a solution that does not reopen the withdrawal agreement," she said. "We agreed on this withdrawal agreement and it cannot be renegotiated."
 
The House of Commons last week rejected the EU withdrawal deal struck by Prime Minister Theresa May with Brussels, leaving Britain without a plan and Brexit day looming on March 29.
 
May has been speaking to her Conservative MPs and her Northern Irish allies to establish what changes might convince them to support the agreement, before restarting talks with Brussels.
 
The MPs are mostly concerned about the so-called backstop, an arrangement that would potentially keep Britain aligned to the EU's trade rules indefinitely as a way to keep open the border with Ireland.
 
Loiseau's remarks came a day after British finance minister Philip Hammond said on Friday he believed the EU might compromise over a Brexit deal in a way that would persuade lawmakers in London to support it.
 
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