French President Emmanuel Macron said the UK would have to leave the European Union without a deal if British MPs reject the Brexit withdrawal agreement again next week.
"In the case of a negative British vote then we'd be heading to a no deal. We all know it. And it's essential to be clear in these days and moments," Macron said on Thursday, 21 March, as he arrived at the summit in Brussels.
"We must be clear, to ourselves, our British friends and our people. Firstly, we've been negotiating the withdrawal agreement for two years. It cannot be renegotiated. Secondly, in the event of another no vote in Britain, we will be heading towards a no deal. Everyone knows it," Macron added.
Why don’t you just ask Merkel and Macron to come over and run our country while you’re at it? Such disdain for our country from an elected politician. https://t.co/9WX9HT6IHi— Julia Hartley-Brewer (@JuliaHB1) 21 March 2019
The EU appears to hold all the aces at the summit as Mrs May, one of the weakest Prime Ministers in British political history, comes cap in hand, begging for an extension to the negotiating process.
On Wednesday, 20 March, Mrs May made a speech in which she seemed to rule out Britain leaving the EU on 29 March.
"You're tired of the infighting, you're tired of the political games and arcane procedural rows. I agree. I am on your side. It is now time for MPs to decide," she said, addressing the British public and apparently blaming some of her own MPs as well as those on the opposition benches.
The more I think about Theresa May's statement yesterday, the more sinister I think it was. Imagine Donald Trump saying, effectively, "your elected representatives have betrayed you, only I have your interests at heart". Just because she's boring doesn't mean she isn't reckless.— Helen Lewis (@helenlewis) 21 March 2019
She headed to Brussels, desperate to persuade the other EU leaders to agree to a short extension.
But Macron's comments suggest she will find it hard to cajole the bloc.
She is due to make a short speech to the other 27 leaders on Thursday afternoon and will then leave the room while they decide whether to grant her request for more time.
European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker are expected to announce a decision around 6pm GMT, before all 28 leaders get together for a "working dinner."
"I am still working on ensuring that parliament can agree a deal so that we can leave in an orderly way. A short extension would give parliament the time to make a final choice that delivers on the result of the referendum," May told reporters, despite persistent speculation her Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) allies are still refusing to accept her Brexit deal.
EU diplomats said her request for a delay to 30 June was likely to be countered with a demand for Britain to have completed formalities and begun a transition to departure before European elections in May.
"With regard to the date of 30 June 30, we have to take into consideration that we have European elections in May. We can discuss this wish next week if we have a positive vote in the British parliament on the exit agreement," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
TUC and CBI issue joint statement saying country facing national emergency. Who says May can't unite the country?— John Crace (@JohnJCrace) 21 March 2019
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was also in Brussels, speaking to EU officials about his alternative plan for Brexit.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said the situation in London was "somewhat chaotic."
"We need to cut the entire British establishment a little bit of slack on this and support their request…for a short extension. No deal will only ever be a British choice," said Varadkar.