Elysee officials has suggested the French President will turn down an approach from Theresa May to extend the EU’s Article 50 exit clause again during a crunch summit next week. France has warned that any suggestion that the next delay was already agreed between the UK and EU is a “clumsy trial balloon”. Mr Macron’s aide said it is “premature to talk of an extension while the EU27 have laid out a clear pre-condition: the necessity of a credible alternative plan to justify that request”.
The Elysee said the “different options with be discussed on April 10 and nothing is decided” at this moment in time.
Mrs May today wrote to Mr Tusk, the European Council President, to request another Brexit delay until June 30.
She pledged to hold European Parliament elections but said if Britain could ratify the Brexit deal by May 23, the country could quit the EU early.
Her letter reads: “The United Kingdom proposes that this period should end on June 30, 2019. If the parties are able to ratify before this date, The Government promises that the period should be terminated early.
“The Government will want to agree a timetable for ratification that allows the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union before May 23, 2019 and therefore cancel the European Parliament elections, but will continue to make responsible preparations to hold the elections should this not prove possible.”
But much of France’s frustration comes from an offer made by Mr Tusk for a “flexible” extension ahead of the summit.
He pleaded with EU leaders to consider the offer, which would see Britain remain an EU member for the foreseeable future but a “guillotine clause” could end the partnership if Britain fails to hold EU elections or wants to leave the bloc.
As reported by Express.co.uk, the end date of the extension could come as late as 2024 as EU leaders want to avoid returning for crisis no-deal Brexit talks every few weeks.
The source said: “EU leaders want to avoid an uncontrolled no deal and there is no appetite to come back every three weeks to agree another delay, only to be blamed when the UK eventually stumbles out without a deal.
“That leaves a few options with a delay offer of either a nine-month, one-year or even until 2022 or 2024.
“This will give the UK and EU time apart to figure out how best to proceed and we’ll hear from the UK where they want to take this at another time, unless you fail to organise European elections and then it ends there and then.”
EU ambassadors will discuss the plans as late as next Tuesday, which is just one day before leaders meet in Brussels to decide Britain’s Brexit fate.
Tory MP and chairman of the eurosceptic European Research Group Jacob Rees-Mogg has suggested the EU should think before offering Britain a long extension because the country will disrupt the bloc from the inside.
On Twitter, he wrote: “If a long extension leaves us stuck in the EU, we should be as difficult as possible.
“We could veto any increase in the budget, obstruct the putative EU army and block Mr Macron’s integrationist schemes.”
On Tuesday, a Brussels source told Express.co.uk France would veto a long Brexit delay to stop Britain meddling in EU affairs any longer.
They said: “If it were left up to the French and the Belgians, it’d be all over!
“There seems to be a somewhat of a historical issue with the French President being summoned to Brussels because of Britain.
“But not everyone is there yet, so we can’t rule anything out at this stage of the game.”