France’ s European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau suggested there should not be any delay in the UK withdrawal from the European Union without reasoning presented by the United Kingdom, in the wake of UK lawmakers’ adoption of a plan to extend Brexit period.
After repeated failed attempts to pass the government’s Brexit deal, the UK parliament backed a motion seeking to extend the withdrawal period beyond 29 March on Thursday. The plan now needs to be agreed upon by 27 EU member states.
“There should not be any delay in Brexit without reasons. There should not be any delay for pleasure to continue discussing the same things. If we speak about some short delay, it should practically be carried out for ratifying the withdrawal agreement which is on the table… If there is a request for a longer delay, it should be accompanied by a new initiative on the part of the United Kingdom, which should be supported by the UK parliament,” Loiseau told a press conference alongside Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney on Friday.
The French diplomat emphasized that the Brexit deal, agreed upon by the European Union and the United Kingdom, was a priority, since it protected the rights of EU citizens living in the United Kingdom and UK nationals living in the bloc; ensured the transition period; and included the so-called backstop mechanism aimed at avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland.
“No one wants to punish the United Kingdom for Brexit. It has been two years that we have been putting a lot of energy and time in order to implement the UK withdrawal within the conditions which are — the best possible? Or, I would say, the least worst [conditions], because division means deterioration of relations between two sides,” Loiseau continued.
The French minister emphasized that the uncertainty around Brexit was bad for the citizens of the United Kingdom, residents of Northern Ireland and all EU citizens.
Loiseau argued that the best way to overcome this uncertainty was to ratify the Brexit deal which was negotiated in detail by London and Brussels.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May has been facing pressure from both inside and outside the country due to uncertainty over the UK withdrawal from the European Union which she initiated in March 2017 following the 2016 referendum.