October 24, 2019 / 6:28 PM / 7 months ago

France to Britain: Tell us why we should grant extension

FILE PHOTO: Amelie de Montchalin, newly-appointed French Junior Minister for European affairs, leaves the Elysee Palace following the weekly cabinet meeting in Paris, France, April 1, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - France is willing to give Britain an extension on the date of its departure from the European Union if London can explain why such a delay is justified, French European Affairs Minister Amelie de Montchalin said on Thursday.

“The French position is to give more time if it’s justified, if we understand why we’re doing it; some time to ratify (Britain’s Brexit accord) obviously, ... If we’re told ‘We want to have elections,’ we’ll look at the question of elections,” she said.

“It’s not a matter of ultimatums, it’s an issue of clarity,” de Montchalin said in an interview on France’s RTL broadcaster.

In London, Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for parliament to discuss holding a general election on Dec. 12, which may help break the impasse over the Brexit legislation.

European Union leaders are deciding whether to push back the Oct. 31 deadline for Britain’s departure for the European Union, after British lawmakers rejected Johnson’s attempt to fast-track a Brexit law through parliament.

Reporting by Sophie Louet and John Irish; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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