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Macron says 'time has come' for British to make choices over Brexit

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Macron says 'time has come' for British to make choices over Brexit
Photo: AFP
15:15 CET+01:00
French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday that the "time has come" for British leaders to decide on how the country will leave the EU, adding that an extension of Article 50 could only be accepted if there is a "clear objective".
"As Michel Barnier has said, we don't need more time, what we need most of all is a decision," Macron said after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris, referring to the EU's chief Brexit negotiator.
 
"If the British need more time, we will examine a request for an extension -- if it is justified by new choices on the part of the British," he said.
   
But he reiterated that "the withdrawal agreement cannot be renegotiated."
   
Macron's comments come as British Prime Minister Theresa May faces a vote Wednesday that could allow a possible request for a Brexit delay.
  
It was a major reversal for May, who had long insisted there would be no delay to Brexit even if that meant crashing out without a withdrawal deal -- on citizens' rights, a divorce bill, and the status of the land border with Ireland.
 
 
Earlier on Wednesday the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said that a delay of Britain's exit from the bloc is a possibility, but only if London explains in detail what it would do with the extra time.
   
Any delay would have to be approved by the 27 other EU nations, Michel Barnier told France Info radio.
   
"And the question they will immediately ask is, What for? That's what will determine the length of any extension," Barnier said.
   
Their goal would be to ensure that "we don't find ourselves at an impasse as we do today" at the end of any additional period," he said, reiterating that the Brexit date of March 29 "was Britain's choice."
 
"Speaking objectively, we don't need more time, we need a decision," Barnier said, adding that he remained determined to work towards securing an exit deal.
   
"It's not correct to say 'no deal' is the most likely scenario. It's possible, but not yet probable," he said.
    
European Council President Donald Tusk had already indicated Monday that European leaders were willing to consider a Brexit delay, calling it a "rational solution" given the political turmoil in Britain.
 
 
   
 
 
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