France warns that it could block UK’s Brexit extension request

France has said that it will not approve an extension of Brexit until May 30 unless Theresa May can show a credible strategy.

France warns that it could block UK's Brexit extension request
Theresa May in the House of Commons on Wednesday Photo: AFP

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday wrote to the EU to formally request that Brexit is delayed until May 30.

But any such request must be passed by the European Council, and France appears to be taking a tough line.

“A situation in which Mrs May is unable to deliver sufficient guarantees on the credibility of her strategy at the European Council meeting would lead to the request being refused and a preference for a no deal,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told the French parliament.


(The full text of Theresa May's letter to the EU, requesting an extension to the Brexit deadline; Photo: AFP)


Le Drian said an extension to the March 29 deadline would only be granted  if May agreed to three conditions.

First, that any extension only be given to approve an exit deal negotiated by May and the other 27 European Union members, which has twice been rejected 
by British MPs.

Secondly, that May not seek to renegotiate the deal.

And thirdly that Britain not participate in elections for the European Parliament which are scheduled for May 23-26.

The remarks upped the pressure on the British prime minister ahead of a  meeting of European leaders in Brussels which begins Thursday where Brexit is 
set to top the agenda.

European Council President Donald Tusk said on Wednesday evening that the short extension May was requesting would be possible – but only if her deal is passed in the British Parliament.

British MPs have already rejected the deal twice and May has told British media that she intends to hold a new vote in parliament on her deal “as soon as possible”.

This comes after John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, ruled that she could not hold a third vote of her deal this week, under a rule about repeated votes on the same topic.


Member comments

  1. NO ONE could possibly be as incompetent as Theresa May and her legion of kleptomaniac Tory accomplices has seemed. The only reasonable explanation for the ongoing train wreck of Brexit, is that May has been a bought-and-sold “sock-puppet” for the corps of nihilistic Libertarian billionaires (Russian, American AND British), and their toolkit (Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, Putin & the Russian Mafia) . . . FROM DAY ONE. All of them want to destroy first the UK and then the EU, so that from the debris, they can “pick up” (steal) the juiciest bits. Meanwhile elder Britons totally fell for the psycho “Imperial nostalgia” and fear-based racism pitches aimed at them, by that corps of the most cynical non-human, non-souls on Earth. Welcome to the 21st century.

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Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

After years of campaigns and promises British citizens living abroad finally won the lifelong right to vote in UK general elections in April 2022. But campaigners say more needs to be done to allow all those Britons abroad to be able cast their votes easily.

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

What’s in the law?

The Elections Act 2022 introduced several changes to the current legislation on electoral participation. Among these, it removed the rule by which British citizens lose their voting rights in the UK if they have lived abroad for more than 15 years

The new rules also abolished the requirement to have been previously registered in the UK electoral roll to become an overseas voter. In addition, the registration in the electoral roll will now last up to three years instead of only one year.

It is estimated that these changes could increase the number of overseas voter registrations by some 3 million. But the way new measures will be applied in practice is still to be defined.

READ ALSO: ‘Mixed feelings’ – British citizens in Europe finally get right to vote for life

Defining the practicalities

Under the new law, Britons living abroad will have to register to vote in the last place they were registered in the UK. This means that people who have never lived in the UK will be ineligible to vote, regardless of how long they have been overseas, while those who left when they were children will be able to use a parent or guardian’s address.

But given that the UK does not require residents to register with local councils, how to prove previous UK residence? “Typical documents accepted as a proof of residence are Council tax or utilities bills, but not everyone will have them or will have kept them in an international move,” says Fiona Godfrey, co-founder of the British in Europe coalition.

Ballot papers are pictured in stacks in a count centre as part of the 2019 UK general election. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP)

Other questions concern how people will effectively cast their ballot. UK citizens overseas will be able to vote by post or by proxy or in person at their polling station if they are in the UK at the time of the election. However, few people are likely to travel to the UK for an election and in the past there have problems and delays with postal voting.

The Electoral Commission has recommended that overseas electors appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf. But who could that be for people who have been away from their constituency for a long time?

New secondary legislation will have to answer these questions, defining how to be included in the electoral roll and how to exercise the voting right in practice.

According to British in Europe, the government should present draft legislation in the first half of the year so that the parliament can adopt it before summer and registrations of overseas voters can start in the autumn.

British in Europe survey

British in Europe are currently running a survey to understand the difficulties UK citizens abroad may face in the registration and voting process, as well as their intention to participate in elections.

The survey asks for instance which documents people can access to prove their previous residence in the UK, what problems they had voting in the past, and if and how they plan to vote in the future.

“We need to get an up-to-date picture of British citizens living around the world and have information to make recommendations to the government, as it prepares secondary legislation,” Godfrey said. “If millions of people will exercise their voting rights, there will be consequences for council registration offices, post office and authorities that will manage the process, among other things” she argued.

The right to vote concerns only UK parliamentary elections and national referendums, not elections in the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, or at local level.

The survey is open to UK citizens living anywhere in the world and is available at this link.