Mrs May is meeting her French counterpart to seek an extension to Article 50 until June 30, less than 24 hours after he vowed to take an even more tougher stance on the subject of the UK leaving the bloc. ITV political editor Robert Peston said Britain’s Brexit fate lies in the hands of Mr Macron, who is keen to make an example of the UK to stop other EU member states following suit, such as Poland, Italy and Hungary, countries that have their own reasons to escape Brussels. Mr Peston said of Mr Macron: “Macron sees merit in punishing the UK for Brexiting, in order to deter populists in other EU countries from pursuing agendas to extricate their respective nations from the EU.”
He added that Mr Macron fears Jacob Rees-Mogg speaks for a number of the candidates to succeed Theresa May, such as Boris Johnson – a maverick Mr Peston said would “wreck havoc” for the EU.
Mr Macron appears to have appointed himself as the Brexit ‘tough guy’, compared to bosom buddy Anegla Merkel, who has taken a softer approach.
Meeting the pair today before the emergency EU summit will see an embattled Mrs May stuck in a situation reminiscent of a ‘good-cop-bad-cop’ sitcom.
And the drama is set to continue this week, it seems.
Mr Macron is known to be keen to stamp his mark on the EU and is has facing turmoil at home over unpopular reforms which have sparked the often violent Yellow Vest protests.
But MPs have warned against him against blocking measures to rule out a no deal Brexit.
Tom Tugendhat, Conservative chairman of the Commons foreign affairs committee, said: “It’s easy to look for short-term victories in complex relationships.
“As President Macron decides how to act at the European Council on Wednesday, I hope he is thinking of the future and not just the present.”
Labour’s former foreign secretary Dame Margaret Beckett said: “He is somebody who claims to care very much about the future of Europe and the way he is behaving is endangering it.”
Mrs May needs to convince EU leaders that she has a viable plan and will meet Germany’s Angela Merkel in Berlin and then Mr Macron.
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