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    A pro-Brexit leave the European Union supporter takes part in a protest outside the House of Parliament in London, Wednesday, March 13, 2019.

    France Insists May Will Have to Explain Brexit Extension as 'It's Not Solution'

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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - A technical extension of the Brexit deadline is possible if the UK House of Commons passes the withdrawal deal, the spokesman for the French government said Wednesday.

    "A technical extension can always be envisaged to finish parliamentary work if there is agreement, which is what Mrs May is asking for and this will be discussed tomorrow at the European Council… It is up to London to formulate proposals and up to the European Council to discuss them at the meeting which will be held tomorrow," Benjamin Griveaux told reporters.

    The spokesman added the Brexit delay was not "automatic" and May would have to explain why she wanted one.

    "The position of France is simple. The UK prime minister has to explain to us how long [the extension will be], for what purpose, and she has to give us guarantees that this extension of Brexit will not be a solution in itself, it can only be a means to an end. A delay is, therefore, neither automatic, nor certain," Griveaux said.

    Earlier in the day UK Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that she had written to European Council President Donald Tusk to inform him that London would seek a Brexit extension until June 30. The original deadline for the UK departure is March 29.

    READ MORE: UK PM Confirms to Parl't She Asked EU for Brexit Delay Until 30 June

    The European Council meeting will be held on Thursday and Friday, with Brexit delay expected to be one of the key issues.

    WATCH Theresa May Answer MPs' Questions on Brexit Delay

    At the same time, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told the French National Assembly that France wanted to send the United Kingdom a "simple and clear message."

    "There are only two options for leaving the European Union: ratify a withdrawal deal or leave without a deal. If the withdrawal deal is passed, we will, of course, be open to a technical extension of several weeks so that British institutions could finalize the ratification of the text," Le Drian said.

    The minister added that if the deal was not approved, a no-deal Brexit would become the key scenario.

    According to Le Drian, thee things would be taken into account to assess May's request for an extension: the delay's objective should be to finalize the ratification of the deal, the United Kingdom should understand that the withdrawal deal confirmed in November cannot be renegotiated, and, finally, the United Kingdom will not participate in the upcoming European elections, scheduled for May 23-26.

    "If Mrs May is unable to give the European Council sufficient guarantees on the credibility of her strategy, it would lead to the rejection of the extension request and to a no-deal Brexit," Le Drian said.

    In the meantime, Steven Woolfe, a UK member of the European Parliament told Sputnik that speaker for the UK House of Commons John Bercow was right to stop the government from bringing the same withdrawal deal to the parliament for a vote.

    In a surprise announcement on Monday, Bercow said that the government could not bring the same deal to vote unless it has been substantially changed or a new parliament session has been called.

    "It was pretty clear for anybody who knows our constitution that for a long time it's been a precedent that you can't keep bringing back the same motion over and over again… So he [Bercow] was right to do so and I think the problem it's highlighted is that the government is a complete shambles. It has been unable to get a deal through and just wants to keep pushing and applying pressure to [members of parliament] MPs with the fear that otherwise they won't get Brexit. Which just shows how bad they are as a government," Woolfe said.

    Tags:
    delay, Brexit, European Council, European Union, Benjamin Griveaux, Theresa May, United Kingdom
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