March 14, 2019 / 3:33 PM / in 6 days

Short Brexit delay to discuss May's deal 'out of the question': France

An anti-Brexit protester holds a sign with attached EU stars in London, Britain March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

PARIS (Reuters) - France does not support a short extension to Article 50 if it is merely for Britain to try and reopen negotiations over its divorce terms with the European Union, an official in President Emmanuel Macron’s office said.

The British parliament is due to vote later on Thursday on seeking a last-minute Brexit delay, as Prime Minister Theresa May piled renewed pressure on reluctant lawmakers to back her EU divorce deal at the third time of asking.

“It is clear in any case that a short extension to talk again about the Withdrawal Agreement is out of the question,” the official at the Elysee palace told Reuters.

“So it’ll either be a no-deal now, or a change of plan from London, of which we see no sign at the moment,” the official added.

European Union leaders meeting next week will consider pressing Britain to delay Brexit by at least a year to find a way through its domestic deadlock, an EU official said.

French officials have said they would veto an extension if Britain only used it to continue to try to win concessions on the Irish backstop, which Paris and other EU leaders say is non negotiable.

Paris would only agree to delay Brexit if London came forward with a credible solution, such as if Britain called an election, held a second referendum or presented a new plan that was acceptable to all sides but needed time to be finalised.

Two weeks before Britain is due to leave the European Union, May is using the threat of a long extension to the Brexit deadline to push eurosceptic rebels in her Conservative Party to finally back her deal.

Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Richard Lough and Janet Lawrence

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