France open to extending post-Brexit transition beyond 2020

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The French government said Tuesday it would support extending the post-Brexit transition period beyond 2020 if Britain and the European Union need more time to agree on new partnership rules.

“France will not sacrifice the content of the deal because of timetable issues,” European Affairs Minister Amelie de Montchalin told reporters in Paris.

Britain is poised to leave the EU on January 31 after 47 years of membership.

Under the terms of the withdrawal agreement, its official relationship with the EU will remain largely unchanged for 11 months during which London and Brussels hope to negotiate a trade agreement.

EU officials have warned that the timeframe is tight.

De Montchalin insisted that Britain could, if necessary, request to prolong the transition period.

British Prime Minister “Boris Johnson has the possibility to ask for more time,” she said.

Johnson, who won a resounding parliamentary majority in December on a promise to “get Brexit done”, has ruled out any such extension.

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