Macron says UK must accept a no-deal Brexit if MPs again reject May’s deal

French President Emmanuel Macron.

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French President Emmanuel Macron.
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MICHEL EULER/AFP/Getty Images

  • Britain is heading for a no-deal Brexit next week if MPs reject Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal, French President Emmanuel Macron warned on Thursday.
  • “In case of a ‘no’ vote or ‘no,’ directly it will guide everybody to a no-deal,” Macron said at a summit of European Union leaders.
  • The EU has said May’s request of a short Brexit delay until June will be granted only if Parliament approves the deal next week.
  • Leaders of the 27 other EU members could be willing to grant the UK a longer Brexit delay instead.

LONDON – Britain is heading for a no-deal Brexit if MPs reject Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday.

“In case of a ‘no’ vote or ‘no,’ directly it will guide everybody to a no-deal,” he said at a summit of European Union leaders in Brussels.

Macron’s comments were endorsed by other EU leaders, including Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who said a no-deal Brexit would become “more realistic” should Parliament reject the deal again next week.

MPs are due to vote for a third time on May’s proposed Brexit plan – which they’ve rejected twice – early next week.

May has requested a short extension of Article 50 until the end of June to avoid leaving without a deal on March 29. The extension would need to be ratified by all EU leaders.

However, European Council President Donald Tusk on Monday indicated that a short extension would be conditional on MPs approving a deal, with a final decision expected from leaders of the other 27 EU member states on Thursday or Friday.

Macron, who held a bilateral meeting with May on Thursday afternoon, suggested that EU leaders might be open to a longer extension if May’s government changed course in her Brexit strategy.

“There must be a deep political change for there to be anything else other than a technical extension,” he said.

British business leaders on Thursday also urged the prime minister to change her approach on Brexit and avoid no-deal.

Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the British Trades Union Congress, and Carolyn Fairbairn, the director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, told the prime minister: “Our country is facing a national emergency. Decisions of recent days have caused the risk of no deal to soar. Firms and communities across the UK are not ready for this outcome. The shock to our economy would be felt by generations to come.”