Sep 8, 2019 - World

France says EU won't grant Brexit extension if U.K. doesn't have a plan

Boris Johnson with a bull

Boris Johnson leads a bull around a pen as he visits Darnford Farm in Aberdeen, Scotland. Photo: Andrew Milligan - WPA Pool/Getty Images

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Sunday that the European Union will not grant the U.K. an extension to its Oct. 31 Brexit deadline if the current situation doesn't change, Bloomberg reports.

"We won’t start over again every three months. Let the British Parliament, let the British authorities tell us what’s the path."

Why it matters: Parliament passed a law last week that will force Prime Minister Boris Johnson to seek an extension from the EU if a last-minute deal isn't struck at the European Council meeting on Oct. 17 and 18. Johnson has repeatedly said that he will not seek an extension under any circumstances and that Brexit must be delivered on Oct. 31, even if it means crashing out of the EU without a deal.

  • The EU has thus far granted 2 Brexit extensions, after former Prime Minister Theresa May failed to get Parliament to back her deal. The biggest sticking point preventing a deal from being passed is the Northern Ireland "backstop," which Johnson says must be eliminated.
  • The EU has maintained that the backstop is simply an insurance policy to prevent a hard border in Ireland from ever being formed, and it has repeatedly called on Johnson to propose an alternative. Johnson has, thus far, failed to produce anything.

The big picture: Experts and even Johnson's own government have warned that a no-deal Brexit could have catastrophic economic consequences, in addition to causing food and drug shortages, traffic delays and a possible outbreak of violence in Northern Ireland.

  • Recent comments by government ministers suggesting that Johnson could ignore the anti-no-deal law passed in Parliament last week have sparked intense backlash, with the U.K.'s former director of public prosecutions telling Sky News Saturday that Johnson could go to prison if he refuses to delay Brexit.

Go deeper: What's next for Brexit bedlam

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