EU ministers arrived in Luxembourg this morning to try and thrash out a united stance on whether it should give the UK a Brexit extension ahead of tomorrow's summit.
Dutch foreign minister Stef Blok said the EU should give Britain “more time” to “avoid no-deal Brexit” as he arrived at the venue of today’s meeting.
“We are hoping for a specific plan from the UK side on how to avoid this no-deal Brexit,” he said.
Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney said: “Everybody this week [is] open to an extension but they certainly want to see a plan attached to that extension.”
German minister Michael Roth also warned Britain that it needed to lay out a clear plan that would justify an extension, the conditions for which so far “have not been met,” he said.
“We are of course thinking about an appropriate extension of the deadline and also about a longer extension. They must, however, come with very strict conditions,” he said, such as participation in EU parliament elections scheduled for May.
France has emerged as a major obstacle to May’s plans, however, with President Emmanuel Macron signalling that he might object to any extension, which needs unanimous support among the EU 27 to happen.
After visiting Merkel in Berlin, May will travel to Paris for talks with Macron today, who is likely to be a less receptive host.
Without an extension offer from the EU, the UK is currently due to leave the EU without a deal on Friday.
Arriving in Luxembourg this morning, France’s EU minister Amelie de Montchalin said: “We want to understand what the UK needs this extension for.” France particularly wanted to know “what role the UK wants to play during this extension time, in what kind of decisions it wants to take part,” she said.
France is thought to be particularly worried about the UK remaining as a member for a longer period and frustrating EU objectives.
Meanwhile, talks between the Conservatives and Labour aimed at finding a Brexit compromise that can pass through the House of Commons will resume in Westminster today.
Justice minister David Gauke said this morning that both sides were working in a positive manner to find a way forward and that talks had been constructive and positive.