French officials said the EU faced “blackmail” by hardli

ine pro-Brexit potential successors to May, such as Boris Johnson. They might try to sabotage decision-making, they said.

However, Merkel has urged the bloc to do all it can to avoid such disruption. She said before leavin

g Berlin that she favoured a delay of “several months” for May, who has pledged to quit if hardcore Brexi

t supporters in her own Conservative Party drop objections to her “soft Brexit” and help ratify the deal.

Keen to ease tension, Merkel had broken the ice as talks began by showing May a photomontage on a tablet of both wearing similar jacket

s when addressing their parliaments earlier in the day. It provoked mutual laughter as other leaders joined in.

As talks wore on beyond midnight, with May patiently waiting elsewhere in the buildin

g for word on her nation’s fate, Macron rallied support for his concerns about a long extension.

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