French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday that the “time has come” for British leaders to decide on how the country will leave the EU, amid indications that London might seek to delay Brexit until after March 29.
“As Michel Barnier has said, we don’t need more time, what we need most of all is a decision,” Macron said after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris, referring to the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator.
“If the British need more time, we will examine a request for an extension -- if it is justified by new choices on the part of the British,” he said.
But he reiterated that “the withdrawal agreement cannot be renegotiated.”
Macron’s comments come as British Prime Minister Theresa May faces a vote Wednesday that could allow a possible request for a Brexit delay.
It was a major reversal for May, who had long insisted there would be no delay to Brexit even if that meant crashing out without a withdrawal deal -- on citizens’ rights, a divorce bill, and the status of the land border with Ireland.
Earlier Wednesday, Barnier said a delay of Britain’s exit from the bloc was a possibility, but only if London explained in detail what it would do with the extra time.
Any delay would have to be approved by the 27 other EU nations, he told France Info radio.
“And the question they will immediately ask is, ‘What for?’. That’s what will determine the length of any extension,” he said.
“Speaking objectively, we don’t need more time, we need a decision,” he added.