EU cannot be 'held hostage' to Brexit crisis – Macron

PARIS, France – French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, April 2, warned the European Union could not "be held hostage" to the Brexit crisis and said that a lengthy extension of the deadline for Britain to leave the bloc was "not a certainty".

Speaking during a visit to Paris by Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, the French leader said: "Our priority must be the proper functioning of the European Union and the single market.

"The EU cannot be held hostage to the resolution of a political crisis in the United Kingdom on a long-term basis," he said.

He added that France was "open" to a lengthy extension of the Brexit deadline on certain conditions but that it was "neither a certainty nor automatic. I am repeating it here with conviction."

The comments from Macron underline growing frustration in Paris about the Brexit process, which was meant to have concluded last Friday under the original timetable.

Following the rejection of British Prime Minister Theresa May's proposed Brexit deal three times, and inconclusive votes on alternative ideas in the House of Commons, Macron said the country was on course to crash out of the EU.

"If the United Kingdom is unable three years after the referendum to propose a solution that commands a majority, it will have chosen de facto for itself to leave without a deal and we are unable to prevent this failure," he said. 

Repeating what was expressed by European leaders at a meeting in Brussels on March 22, Macron said "it is up to the United Kingdom to present a credible alternative plan, backed by a majority, between now and April 10." –