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What is France's latest thinking on #Brexit? Quick thread after my visit to Paris last week:
1. Frustration: What does UK *really* want? UK want a deal but have yet to fwd proposals the EU can work with; meanwhile, no guarantee PM cd get a deal through Parliament. ‘Nothing has changed’
2. Brexit deal: France wd prefer a deal to no deal & EU prepared to work ‘until last possible moment’ to reach one; but cannot wait until the 17/18 EU Council for negotiations (too late). "We hope UK realises this"
3. Tory Conference: Speaking of, no-one in Paris believes there will be any progress before Tory party conference. And then? Who knows.
4. Wd France veto an extension? “It’s an EU decision, not a French decision”. My hunch: they’d agree to an extension, but have yet to decide terms. (Wd other EU countries veto? "We've always managed to agree. Why wd this time be different?").
5. Extension must:
1. "Serve to make a decision, not delay a decision";
2. Not interfere with EU work (new Commission about to start);
3. Be last one (no rolling extensions) - "how can Gov & business prepare with constant uncertainty?!".

So what are the options?
6. Short: to 31 January to allow a general election & talks with EU. No need for British commissioner. But “31 Jan around the corner”; no guarantee things will have changed.
7. Long: until end of 2020 (before EU budget kicks in). Cd end earlier. But UK wd need to appoint a British Commissioner. UK wd continue to participate & vote in EU Council (including on EU budget😬)
8. Incidentally.. : UK "acted in sincere cooperation" on EU issues throughout Brexit talks. But British officials now only participating in “essential” EU meetings – so missing out on a lot of talks abt EU future. (I wrote why this was silly here: instituteforgovernment.org.uk/blog/pulling-o…)
9. Future UK-EU relationship: no real thinking about it (not clear London is either). No deal wd stifle any constructive thinking – at least in short-term. Cd affect UK-FR relationship too. (My view: FR & UK shd perhaps talk abt future - esp. where they want to cooperate)
10. Conclusion: France wd prefer that UK left with a deal - but "prepared for no deal". What they *really* want is certainty and “an end point” – cannot have Brexit hanging over our heads as “new Commission is about to start”. END.
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