Why France won’t really block a Brexit extension, explained in one Twitter thread

Why France won't really block a Brexit extension, explained in one Twitter thread
Will Macron really block a Brexit extension request? Photo: AFP
Comments from France's foreign minister that the country would block any attempt to delay Brexit for a third time received much coverage over the weekend - but is the situation really that simple?

The French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told French radio station Europe 1 that: “In the current circumstances, its no! … We are not going to go through this every three months.”

Of course, the situation is at present hypothetical as the UK has not requested any extension to the current Brexit deadline of October 31st, in fact British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than delay Brexit for a third time.

But if any request was made, then all 27 countries in the EU would have to agree to grant it, meaning that France does have the theoretical power to block any request made.

But would it really do that?

Political analyst Mujtaba Rahman, who has previously worked for both the European Commission and the UK's Treasury and is an adjunct professor at Sciences-Po in Paris, the London School of Economics and New York University's Stern Business School, says the situation is not quite so simple.

In an incisive thread published on Twitter, he argues that there are more nuances to the French position.






















When the most recent extension was granted in April, France took a tough line in the run-up to the meeting at the European Council, but ultimately Macron agreed with other European leaders to allow an extension, although a shorter one than had been proposed by some.

Macron said at the time that he didn't mind being the 'bad guy in the room'.

However in the end he compromised with his fellow European leaders, particularly German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had wanted to give the UK even longer to sort out its Brexit position.


Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.