October 18, 2018 / 7:31 AM / a month ago

France open to extending Brexit transition period: finance minister

French Economy Minister Bruno le Maire arrives at the Elysee Palace for the weekly cabinet meeting in Paris, France October 17, 2018. Francois Mori/Pool via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) - Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Thursday left the door open for France to support the European Union negotiator’s offer of a one-year extension to Britain’s post-Brexit transition period.

Michel Barnier proposed the extension to give London more time to agree an EU-UK customs deal needed to solve the Irish border issue. British Prime Minister Theresa May said in Brussels on Thursday she was willing to discuss an extension of the transition period without ever planning to use it.

“It’s for the French president to decide whether an extension is in our interests,” Le Maire told Public Senat TV, adding that France was making the necessary preparations for a no-deal scenario.

“I believe it is in our interest do everything possible up until the last minute to reach a deal with Britain. Our red line is a deal that would weaken the single market and the EU.”

Reporting by Richard Lough; Editing by Gareth Jones

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