Emmanuel Macron has kicked off the meeting of EU27 leaders with a “very tough” stance, making the chances of a long Article 50 extension less likely. An EU diplomat has revealed that the French President is pulling in an entirely different direction from his counterparts as they attempt to hammer out a date for Theresa May’s requested Brexit delay. The source told Express.co.uk: “Emmanuel Macron is tough. Very tough.”
On the diminishing possibilities of a long extension, they added: “I am not betting on it anymore.”
This follows an early change of draft conclusions being worked on by leaders, which move to bolster an EU effort to hold regular meetings to evaluate the ongoing Brexit process during any delay.
France is seeking safeguards to ensure that any delay doesn’t implicate EU decision-making, which could scupper a long delay.
Talks between leaders are ongoing and could last into the early hours of Thursday morning, according to an EU official.
The current extension date remains as “[XX.XX.XXXX]” while the discussions are ongoing over dinner.
EU27 leaders and top eurocrats are feasting on a warm scallop salad followed by cod loin served with brown shrimps and Italian-style rice balls.
Mrs May is dining separately with her team at the British residence in Brussels before heading back to the EU’s Europa building to resume talks with Donald Tusk, the European Council president, before signing off on the bloc’s final decision.
The Prime Minister presented her Brexit plans in front of leaders for just over an hour before leaving them to discuss plans.
Ahead of her briefing, she told reporters that she would continue to ask for any delay to last until June 30, with Britain able to leave as soon as the withdrawal agreement is ratified.
Mr Macron’s tough stance puts him at odds with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is in favour of a long extension to allow the Conservative and Labour Party to hold cross-party talks.
“We know that such cross-party negotiations require endurance and the ability to compromise,” she said.
“We will discuss what kind of extension we want to give the UK. It is possible that this will be a longer one than the prime minister asked for.”