Tue Sep 10th, 2019 at 07:21:21 PM EST
The title is, of course, a tongue in cheek reference to ATinNM"s diary based on a Deutsche Welle article reporting:
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said that under the current circumstances, France won't offer the UK another extension to its withdrawal from the EU.
Of course, all members of the EUCO have a right to veto an A50 extension should Boris follow the law and request it, but a "France says 'non' to Brexit delay" headline sells more copy in the English speaking world than, say "Luxembourg says 'non' to Brexit delay".
In any case, it doesn't matter: if the UK manages to ask for an extension, the EU27, including France, will grant one, however reluctantly. Here's why.
There's a rather good summary in this Politico.eu article, written from Brussels by non-Brits. They have this to say about Le Drian's outburst:
Brussels can't help but extend the Brexit horror show
In Brussels, such threats are viewed as both a genuine expression of current EU27 sentiment -- they are thoroughly fed up with Britain and its national mess -- and also as perfectly accurate. They want the U.K. to provide some substantive reason for a delay, though that doesn't seems difficult given that a national election within weeks or months is now regarded as inevitable.
At the same time, such threats are viewed as strategically useful, serving to counter the long-running conspiracy theory among Brexit supporters that somehow the EU is in cahoots with Remain forces in the U.K., working to thwart Britain's departure altogether.
But yes, everybody agrees that no one wants to be responsible for forcing a no-deal crash out by refusing an extension:
Such a move, they concede, would make the EU and the 27 capitals responsible, at least in the public's mind, for the acute economic harm expected as a result of no deal, no matter the many months of insisting that London and London alone would be to blame for a no-deal outcome.
The Politico crew also noted a rising exasperation at the never ending Brexit drama:
Several EU officials said that the deepening political crisis in London offers proof that French President Emmanuel Macron was correct to oppose a longer extension when the European Council voted in April to postpone the cliff-edge date to October 31. That was the second extension granted by the Council to then Prime Minister Theresa May, having postponed previously from the original March 29 deadline for the U.K.'s departure.
Better not take these 'non' comments, from Le Drian or any one else, at face value: in the end, no EU27 leader, least of all Macron, will risk breaking the consensus on such an important issue.
Still, a second EU diplomat said that the view in Paris is a bit more textured than recent public pronouncements suggest and that the Elysée would be open to a brief extension, perhaps up to two months, in order to let the U.K. hold a national election and create conditions for a final Brexit agreement by the time EU27 leaders hold their December summit.
"In this moment, Paris is calling the shots; Germany will follow the consensus," the second diplomat said. "But Paris' position is more nuanced than it seems."
"Just a few weeks," the diplomat added, predicting what Macron would accept. "The deal has to be done at December's Council."