France’s Europe minister insisted that only a general election or second referendum could justify a further extension to Article 50. Ms de Montchalin said: “Time alone is not a solution.
“However, if a significant political change takes place in the UK then that could potentially justify a discussion on an extension if we were asked for it.
“A significant political change is the prospect of an election, a referendum, something that changes the political dynamic so that the triangle between the Government, Parliament and the British people could align with each other a bit more.
“We believe that time alone will not solve the complexity of what is at stake.”
Ms de Montchalin’s warning raises the possibility that French President Emmanuel Macron could veto an extension to the October 31 Brexit deadline.
It comes as Boris Johnson is racing to hammer out an agreement with the EU before a crunch summit on October 17 and 18.
The two-day EU summit comes ahead of a special Saturday sitting of Parliament, the first in 37 years.
The Prime Minister must get a new deal approved by MPs on Saturday to avoid a clash over asking for a Brexit delay.
Remainer MPs passed the Benn Act in a bid to force Mr Johnson to request an extension to the Brexit deadline if he has not passed a deal by October 19.
But speculation is high that the Prime Minister could use a loophole to avoid this as he has repeatedly promised to take the UK out of the EU on Halloween with or without an agreement in place.
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Speaking today, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said reaching a deal this week is “still possible”.
Mr Barnier said: “Even if an agreement has been difficult, more and more difficult, it’s still possible this week.
“Reaching an agreement is still possible. Obviously, any agreement must work for all. The whole of the UK and the whole of the EU.
“Let me add also that it is high time to turn good intentions in a legal text.”
It comes after Finland’s Prime Minister Antti Rinne warned there is no time left before the summit to strike a Brexit deal.
After meeting the European Council’s president-elect Charles Michel yesterday, Mr Rinne said: “I think there is no time in a practical or legal way to find an agreement before the EU Council meeting. We need more time.”
But the Government rejected claims a Brexit deal cannot be negotiated in time.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick insisted a “great deal” of progress had been made.
He told BBC’s Newsnight: “The EU is capable of moving extremely quickly if they wish to.
“Like any negotiation with the EU, and in fact with any major negotiation in life, everything happens at the last minute.
“This was always going to be both complicated and come down to the final hours and days, so this doesn’t surprise me.
“We are going to work round the clock to try to secure it.”
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