Speaking on BBC Newsnight, Mr Francois waved off claims his European Research Group (ERG) had killed off Brexit by refusing to back Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal. On Monday night, royal assent was given to the bill that would rule out a no deal Brexit and give more time for negotiations to continue with the EU on how the UK will leave. But the ERG has been accused of jeopardising Brexit by repeatedly voting against Mrs May’s deal, a move some believe could halt the UK ever leaving the EU.
When quizzed by the BBC One show’s host Emily Maitlis about whether the bill would mean no deal would be off the cards, he was defiant.
He said: “No. The bill doesn’t actually prevent a no deal.
“It depends on the European Council. The bill gives the Prime Minister a mandate to suggest a date for an extension, but it doesn’t force the EU to agree.
“Both sides have to agree the extension.
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“She has already asked for a delay of June 30, which the European Council turned down bluntly.”
Yesterday, Leave voter Daniel Kaczynski resigned from the ERP claiming the “hardcore element” of the party was undermining Brexit.
He accused the group of being “unicorn dreams” who are “actually endangering Brexit” due to not supporting the Withdrawal Agreement.
But Mr Francois added: “The reason we’ve always opposed the Withdrawal Agreement is because we don’t leave the European Union.”
The ERG has been split after 28 MPs broke away from the influential group.
That split comes as the House of Lords passed the amendment which requires the Prime Minister to seek an extension to Article 50 in the aim of avoiding a no deal Brexit.
The Yvette Cooper bill has now been enshrined in law and requires Mrs May to seek an extension beyond April 12.
Mrs May will request a Brexit delay until June 30 during an emergency EU summit on Wednesday.