The young president is willing to approve Theresa May’s request to delay Brexit until June 30 – but with strings attached. He is calling for the British to accept legally binding assurances which would mean over the coming months the UK would not have a say in decisions affecting the bloc’s future. In theory, the agreement would mean the UK would abstain from voting to select a new European Commission president and would not have any input into where the long-term EU budget is spent.
European Council president Donald Tusk proposed a 12-month “flextension” which would postpone Brexit up until March 29, 2020.
Paris, which has emerged as the strongest voice in opposition to an extension, dismissed the proposal as “clumsy”.
On Wednesday, EU leaders will gather for an emergency Brexit summit to discuss the Prime Minister’s request to extend Article 50 until June 30.
One senior EU diplomat told the Financial Times: “It is part of the job description for every French president to humiliate the Brits.”
And another source close to the president said: “We cannot exclude that the political context leads him to veto.
“If the UK cannot provide justification for a long extension then it is a political question for the French president.”
Mrs May, who is seeking to buy more time to come up with a “compromise” with Labour, needs the approval of each of the other 27 EU member states.
While German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said “we need to be patient and understanding of the predicament” the UK has found itself in, France is using a harsher tone.
The French foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said the Brexit uncertainty must not continue and called on the British to make up their minds.
He told reporters: “It’s time for this situation to end.
“We can’t live perpetually with Brexit. We regret this vote, we didn’t ask for it, but at some point there is an exit.
“The British authorities, the parliament, can’t expect the EU to exhaust itself permanently over the ups and downs of Brexit.”
He added: “They must tell us quickly how they plan to get out of this crisis.”
Mr Macron wants Mrs May to lay out a clear plan on what exactly she intends on doing to bring the Brexit impasse to a end.
A French official was quoted by the Financial Times as saying: “We can’t treat a member state that’s leaving in the same way as one that is there forever.”
But one EU official said it would be “extremely difficult” for the bloc to impose conditions on the UK because it would interfere with its rights as a member state.
The Prime Minister last week reached out to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in a bid to break the three-month Brexit deadlock.
As it stand, the UK is due to exit the EU at 11pm on Friday.