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UK must offer 'clear' Brexit response ahead of EU summit: France

AFP  |  Paris 

The must offer a "clear" answer on its intentions for before a EU summit next week, the French presidency said Friday, after UK lawmakers voted to seek a delay if no withdrawal deal is reached soon.

"Without any clarity, no solution is possible," Emmanuel Macron's office said, adding that if the current withdrawal deal is rejected, a "clear and new alternative plan" must be presented or else Britain will have to leave the EU with no deal.

The summit next week is seen as the last chance for to secure unanimous approval from the other 27 EU members for any delay.

May is expected to again submit the withdrawal deal to lawmakers next week, though it has already been rejected twice.

"That's the best option," the French presidency said, in which case no EU state is expected to oppose a "technical extension" that would give Britain time to vote on a series of laws for ensuring a smooth

But if the deal is again rejected, any request for a short delay would be "pointless" and as a result probably rejected by the EU, it said.

Only a longer delay request that puts "something new on the table: a referendum, an election, some other deal" would be likely to gain EU approval, Macron's office said.

"It's not up to EU countries to say what that is, but the United Kingdom," it said.

The comments dovetailed with those from Irish Simon Coveney, who was in on Friday.

"We've always said in Ireland, if the UK asks for more time, for one to prevent no deal, a crash-out Brexit happening, but secondly to implement a clear plan and strategy to reflect on and perhaps change direction in regard to Brexit, well then certainly wouldn't be an obstacle to that," Coveney told a conference.

The deal May struck with the EU has remained deadlocked in the British parliament, chiefly by disagreement over the so-called Irish "backstop" -- a measure to keep trade flowing and avoid barriers at the border between and the Republic of

Coveney was to hold talks later Friday with France's

Ahead of the meeting he thanked for its solidarity" with Ireland on the border issue, seen by Ireland as key to avoiding a return to violence in

"Many people see peace in as something that was negotiated and agreed two decades ago, assuming it is done and we can move on. The truth is that peace needs to be worked for every week and every day," he said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, March 15 2019. 19:30 IST