French European affairs minister, Amélie de Montchalin, said the 11-month timetable for the bloc to strike a trade deal could be extended to least June 2021. The ally of the French President Emmanuel Macron, insisted France would play hardball and would not “sacrifice” any content in order to meet the deadline agreed by both parties. The threat issued by France has been condemned by Express.co.uk readers who vented their anger on Facebook.
Several users called on the Prime Minister to walk away from a trade deal and accused the bloc of “moving the goalposts”.
One reader said: “WHY? are we wasting time, Negotiations only work if both sides are willing to negotiate.”
A second user said: “We must leave immediately with no Deal the EU is sinking.”
Another reader commented: “The EU like the UK signed up to do the deal at the same time, now they are moving the goalposts it was agreed.”
A fourth user wrote: “Tough luck France. We’re going and you can please yourself, we can manage without you!”
A fifth user said: “They are such an arrogant bunch aren’t they? Why would anyone want to keep us in there when it’s obvious we want out? Oh yes…. MONEY!”
Boris Johnson has repeatedly ruled out extending the transition period beyond December 31.
Ms de Montchalin indicated talks between the UK and Brussels would only go smoothly if Mr Johnson came forward with “reasonable” demands.
She told the US political website Politico: “The more reasonable the demands of the UK are, the more reasonably we can agree on such a timeframe.
“It will now depend on how the UK presents its negotiation strategy and objectives.”
The Europe minister went on to say France would not “put ourselves in a straight jacket” to meet the deadline.
The chairman of the EU’s Brexit Steering Group, who has been in London this week said the UK was only taking a “sabbatical” from the bloc and would return in a decade.
Mr Verhofstadt said: “I think that will happen, yes, it’s difficult to say when.
“There will be a generation, the young generation coming in the coming decades, who will say later ‘We want to go back’.
“It will happen. Maybe you will not see it in my life, but it will happen.”