April 10, 2019 / 9:08 PM / 11 days ago

Macron speaks against long Brexit delay at EU summit - diplomats

BRUSSELS, April 10 (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron told his European Union peers on Wednesday any Brexit delay beyond June 30 would undermine the bloc, diplomatic sources said.

EU leaders are meeting in Brussels to grant Britain a second Brexit delay, under certain conditions. Most of the 27 national leaders had already spoken in the first three hours of their discussions, but the sources said they expected the talks to go on well into the night.

France has pushed the hardest line on Brexit in the EU, and some of the national diplomats from other member states expressed annoyance at the fact that Paris was introducing even more uncertainty into the summit.

“Their behaviour is annoying, just posturing to show how important and powerful they are,” one EU diplomat said. “On the one hand, they say no-deal is not that bad but then ask EU help for their fisheries in a no-deal. It’s either one or the other.”

Another diplomat said: “Macron just made a powerful statement. (He) said anything beyond June 30 would jeopardise the EU and we shouldn’t go there.”

“He is in a bit of a schizophrenic situation - (his) domestic audience demands that he is tough on Britain for historic reasons. On the other hand, France is among the most-hit in any no-deal Brexit. It will take hours before we pull him down from his tree.”

EU diplomats and officials said the mood in the room was in favour of a long extension before Macron took the floor and highlighted the risks he thought it posed to the bloc. (Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska)

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