France says only ‘political change’ in UK would justify Brexit extension

PARIS — Either the U.K. changes its tune or the EU won’t change the Brexit deadline, a senior French official warned Wednesday.

Only a “political change” in Britain, creating the possibility of a “different dialogue,” would justify an extension of the October 31 Brexit deadline, France’s state secretary for European affairs, Amélie de Montchalin, told a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday.

“If new elections, if there’s a new referendum, if there is a political change that leads us to think that we could have a different dialogue than the one we are currently having, an extension request can be discussed,” de Montchalin told a National Assembly hearing.

“But giving more time in the same exact conditions we see, it doesn’t give lots of hope that things will go differently,” she said. “It’s not three more months that will resolve the complexity of the problem. On the other hand, what can help us is if we have other interlocutors, or that they carry a more aligned position between what the parliament says, what the population thinks and what the government says.”

The Brexit back-and-forth is coming down to the wire, with London and Brussels pessimistic about prospects for a deal just one week before a crucial European Council leaders’ summit.

Amélie de Montchalin, France’s state secretary for European affairs | Philippe Huguen/AFP via Getty Images

In Brussels, EU officials and diplomats are bracing for the possibility that French President Emmanuel Macron will take a hardline stance against any further Brexit delay given the continuing political chaos in London — despite the repeated insistence of other EU leaders that they would never force a no-deal outcome if any chance remained for a deal.

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