France 'will never abandon Ireland' - Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron has said his country "will never abandon Ireland" as the EU grapples with the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.
With just 10 remaining for the UK to find a consensus, Mr Macron said it appears we are heading for de facto no-deal scenario.
"If the United Kingdom is not capable, almost three years after the referendum, of coming forward with a solution that is supported by a majority, it will have effectively chosen a no-deal exit on its own," Mr Macron said.
He said the EU will listen to any request for another Brexit extension but it must have a good reason.
Speaking alongside Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the Elysée Palace in Paris, he cited a general election, a second referendum or a move towards a customs union as potential reasons for a delay.
"It's up to London to say it, and to say it now," he said.
The two leaders are discussing the consequences of a no-deal next week.
Mr Macron said Ireland and France will be the two most impacted countries.
"We will never abandon Ireland or the Irish people, no matter what," he said.
The French government is known to be wary of delaying Brexit and subsequently facilitating the UK’s participation in next month’s European election.
Part of Mr Varadkar’s mission in Paris is to convince Mr Macron to be as generous as possible to embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Before their meeting Mr Varadkar publicly acknowledge that it is difficult for other EU countries to contemplate Brexit remaining on the agenda for another year or longer.
He said the UK is consumed by Brexit – but France, Ireland and the EU shouldn’t be.
Mr Varadkar urged UK politicians to give Mrs May a mandate for a new approach.
“There is still time for the prime minister to come to the European Council with proposals, proposals that are credible and have a clear pathway to success," he said, adding: “"We need to be open to any proposals that she may bring forward to us.”
However, he also accepted that as things stand the UK will crash out of Europe and all countries need to be prepared for that situation.
Mr Varadkar said the Irish government would protect the EU single market which he credited with provide “jobs and prosperity” for many decades.
There is still no clear method for how the Government plans to protect the single market while also avoiding a hard border.