In Brief

Is Emmanuel Macron set to sink Brexit deal with French veto?

Diplomats warn EU negotiators not to give too many concessions to win agreement

Emmanuel Macron gives the opening speech of a video international donor conference for Lebanon at the Elysee palace.

France is poised to veto a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU if Paris is unhappy with the terms of the agreement, according to a leaked diplomatic note. 

Bloomberg reports that the internal document reveals how the French ambassador to the EU yesterday “warned chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier of how bad it would look if he brokered a deal only to see it vetoed by EU leaders”. The veiled threat, at a meeting in Brussels of the bloc’s 27 ambassadors, piles pressure on the EU negotiating team “not to make further concessions as talks build to a climax”, says the news site.

The French position was backed by Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark, while “several ambassadors pressed to see draft text so that they could have enough time to scrutinise it properly”.

An EU diplomat told The Times that “as we are entering the endgame of Brexit negotiations, some member states are becoming a bit jittery. So this was mostly an exercise to calm nerves in Paris and elsewhere, and to reassure member states that Team Barnier will continue to defend core EU interests.”

Another source close to the talks told the Daily Mail that avoiding a veto by a bloc of EU member states meant finding “a compromise where the UK can say they have won, and the EU can say they haven’t lost”. 

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg last night tweeted that “boxes and boxes of pizza” were being delivered to the Brexit negotiators, “fuelling a late night session ... a sign of things getting seriously close?”

Meanwhile, a UK official told Politico’s London Playbook that the talks were “still going”, but cautioned that it was “still not clear if we are going to get there”.

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