France’s EU minister names her cat ‘Brexit’ because ‘he meows loudly to be let out but won’t go through the door’

Nathalie Loiseau is France’s lead minister in charge of Brexit

Jon Stone
Europe Correspondent
Monday 18 March 2019 12:37 GMT
French Europe minister, Nathalie Loiseau, insists no details legal proposals have yet been presented by the UK

France’s minister for European affairs says she has named her cat “Brexit” on account of its indecisive nature.

Nathalie Loiseau told Le Journal du Dimanche that her pet meows loudly to be let out each morning, but then refuses to go outside when she opens the door.

The comments from the French government’s lead in Brexit talks come ahead of a decision by EU leaders on whether to extend the Brexit negotiating period at the request of the UK. And this week will see a possible third rejection of Theresa May’s Brexit deal by the House of Commons.

“He wakes me up every morning meowing to death because he wants to go out, and then when I open the door he stays put, undecided, and then glares at me when I put him out,” Ms Loiseau said.

Ms Loiseau is set to be the top candidate for Emmanuel Macron’s party in the upcoming European Parliament elections, where she will go head-to-head with Marine Le Pen, who is hoping to lead a far-right insurgency.

The minister has taken a tough and sometimes provocative line in Brexit negotiations so far, proactively shooting down UK proposals and warning of the risks of a no-deal Brexit.

In October she controversially suggested that a no-deal Brexit would be better than Theresa May’s Chequers proposals for the EU, taunting the prime minister her own phrase: “No deal would be better than a bad deal”.

Her approach has echoed the tone set by her president Emmanuel Macron, who has warned he could block an Article 50 extension if the UK does not come up with new choices to justify it.

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has taken a minister tone, asking: “Why would we extend these discussions? The discussion on Article 50, that is done and dusted. We have the withdrawal agreement, it is there. That is the question asked and we are waiting for the answer to that.”

Ms Loiseau has steered emergency legislation through the French national assembly to give the country’s government sweeping executive powers to respond to a no-deal Brexit.

On Thursday, EU leaders will meet in Brussels at a European Council summit to decide on a possible extension of Article 50, which MPs backed in a vote last week.

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