IF the UK does request a further Brexit delay, would the EU grant it?

That was a question being asked yesterday after French ministers suggested over the weekend that President Emmanuel Macron could veto one.

French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Sunday the Brexit deadline of October 31 will not be extended by the European Union, despite opposition MPs passing a law to postpone Brexit if No Deal has been struck.

In an interview with radio station Europe 1, he said: “It’s very worrying. The British must tell us what they want.” He added: “We are not going to do (extend) this every three months.”

The position was also underlined by France’s European affairs minister Amélie de Montchalin.

“It’s not because a problem is complicated that by diluting it over time and delaying it for three months without changing anything, it will be resolved,” she said.

“When I hear the British saying, ‘Give us three months more and we will solve the problem’, we can see that another six months would not solve the problem, nor another three months. They have to be able to tell us what they want.”

Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are expected to clash over how long Brexit should be delayed, as ministers and diplomats warned that Brussels’ patience with the UK was running out.

The issue of a possible extension was raised at the press conference with Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar in Dublin yesterday.

Varadkar told journalists it was the EU27’s preferred option for the UK to leave with a deal at the end of October.

However, he left open the possibility of agreeing to an extension if there was a clear purpose.

He said: “We would prefer that there not be an extension, that if the UK is leaving it should leave on on 31st October. But as the [incoming] President of the Commission Ursula von der Leyen has said if there is a good reason to have an extension we would consider it but I think we would all prefer to have this resolved in October so that the UK can leave the European Union and begin its new journey in the world and we can continue with our domestic priorities here and the European Union can focus on all the issues we want to deal with.”

Boris Johnson has said he will refuse to ask the EU for a new Brexit extension saying last week he would “rather be dead in a ditch”.

However, yesterday a bill passed by MPs last week which would require him to seek a delay until January 31 unless there was a deal by October 19 became law when it received Royal Assent.

Dr Kirsty Hughes, director of the Scottish Centre on European Relations, said she believed the EU would grant a new extension – if it was for a General Election, a second EU vote or perhaps even in the event of a temporary government following a vote of no-confidence in Johnson’s government.

“The EU is likely to grant an extension for a General election or a second EU referendum but if it’s a request only to extend it may be rejected,” she explained.

“Whether the request is made in order to hold an election depends who makes it: if Johnson is still PM he might not say it’s for an election.

“But then between the request being made and the EU response there could still be time for a Vote of No Confidence and a temporary government to take over and explain the request is for an election.”

In a tense summit on the current extension last April, Macron made it clear to other European leaders that he did not support delay if it extended the impasse in parliament.

The issues of an extension or No Deal Brexit is expected to be the main focus when the EU heads of government meet on October 17 and 18 for a European Council meeting.

If the UK crashes out without a deal at the end of October there would be no transition period until end of December 2020 as promised under the withdrawal agreement. There have also been warning of food and medical shortages according to leaked UK government documents.