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Europe cannot remain a 'prisoner' to Brexit delays, Macron says

France 24 screen grab

French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday that Europe must not remain a "prisoner" to the uncertainties and delays of the Brexit process as Prime Minister Theresa May again seeks parliamentary approval of a new exit deal.

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French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday that Europe must not remain hostage to the ongoing Brexit process as British Prime Minister Theresa May struggles to persuade a deeply divided parliament to back her Brexit deal after the EU granted her more time.

“The European project must not remain a prisoner to Brexit,” Macron told reporters on Friday.

Macron also called for unity within Europe that the block has had a needed wake-up call on China, saying, “China plays our divisions.”

“The period of European naiveté is over,” he added, throwing his support behind the Commission’s 2016 procurement directive.

Earlier on Friday, an official in Macron’s office said there would be no further extensions, even to implement the exit: “No, April 12 is the leave date.”

>> Read more: Macron cast as Brexit tough guy as deadline nears

European Commission officials have said that April 12 was “the new March 29th” – the previous exit deadline.

Macron has been the most forthright among EU leaders in wanting to draw a line under Britain’s Brexit crisis quickly to refocus on pushing forward the bloc’s agenda. Some, including Germany, have instead stressed the need to make every effort to ensure a chaotic exit is avoided.

Under Thursday’s deal, May 22 will be the departure date if the British parliament finally approves next week May’s withdrawal agreement after twice resoundingly rejecting it. If it does not, Britain must present a new plan by April 12 or leave the EU without a treaty.

>> Of Backstops, Brextremists and BOBs: A glossary of Brexit terms

Some have said the summit conclusions were not so clear-cut.

“If there is no indication that they are going to run European elections ... there is no ability to extend further,” Irish European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee said. “But at the same time, it doesn’t mean that on April 12 that is the end date.

“It means that they have to give a timeline for what it is that they are doing or set out exactly what it is that they have planned. It takes away the possibility of a cliff-edge in 24 hours.”

A senior EU diplomat echoed the view that there could be wriggle room or further delays.

“My reading is rather in the direction that April 12 is the new March 29,” the diplomat said. “The door is left open for another extension.”

EU grants May a Brexit delay: What's next?

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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