The French Europe Minister, Nathalie Loiseau, is visiting the UK today and made it clear in interviews that the EU is still waiting for workable proposals from the British Government on the Northern Ireland backstop. She said “at this stage we know what the UK does not want, and that’s a first phase, but it’s not necessarily enough. At the moment, we’re talking. We have not heard proposals, ideas or initiatives coming from the British government to overcome the current difficulties.”
She also questioned the possibility of an Article 50 extension without a specific purpose, saying: “Why would be there be an extension without a reason? We have been in discussions for quite a long time now. There needs to be something specific to justify an extension. This is not only what Emmanuel Macron is saying, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, was in Paris last week and said the same thing. And a number of my counterparts throughout the European Union call me for frequent discussions and we all have the same sense. A short extension: why not, if there is a good and credible reason.”
Commenting, David Lammy MP, a leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said:
“Comments today by the French Europe minister, Nathalie Loiseau, make it crystal clear that the UK Government is still utterly failing to engage with reality on the question of Northern Ireland backstop, by making demands that the EU has repeatedly rejected as unworkable and unrealistic. She also stressed that the EU is unlikely to grant an Article 50 extension without a specific purpose – it would need to be for a reason, such as a People’s Vote.
“With the clock ticking and the damaging uncertainty already costing jobs and investment, it’s increasingly obvious there’s no majority in Parliament for any specific form of Brexit – that’s why it has to go back to the people now that we know so much more about what Brexit means.
“Now we know what Brexit looks like, now we know the cost, and now we know how badly Brexit compares to our current deal in the EU, the only way forward is to put it to the people. That’s why huge numbers will be marching through London on March 23, demanding that the people are given the final say.”
Notes to editors
Nathalie Loiseau’s comments can be read here.