Gordon Brown has said the European Union will next week "withdraw" the current deadline for Brexit and remove any excuse for no-deal on October 31.

The former Labour Prime Minister said his belief was based on talks with EU leaders in recent days.

In particular, he said he understood that France’s President Macron, the prime mover behind the October 31 deadline when it was agreed in April, no longer insisted upon it.

He said President Macron had demanded a six month extension rather than a year to “sound tough” to a domestic audience six weeks before the European elections.

Mr Brown said that although EU leaders could not unilaterally annul the deadline, he now expected them to say they were ready and willing to extend it, adding to the pressure on Boris Johnson to avoid no-deal. 

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He said he hoped the move it would give MPs more time to pass emergency legislation to block no-deal when they returned to Westminster on Tuesday.

The Prime Minister has insisted the UK will leave on Hallowe'en "do or die".

The Herald:

He told a thinktank seminar in Edinburgh: "I have actually been talking to some European leaders this week.

"I believe that next week the European Union will withdraw the October 31st deadline and remove the excuse that Boris Johnson has and the claim that he's making that it's the European Union being inflexible in their timing, and make it possible for MPs to vote [against] no-deal Brexit."

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Expanding on his remark in a Q&A session, Mr Brown said: “It was Macron that introduced this October 31st deadline. He persuaded the rest of the European Council to announce it and Britain agreed to it.

“My information is that Macron no longer holds to that deadline. It was really introduced for his campaign in the European elections to make him sound tough.

“And none of the other European Commissioners, including the new President of the European Commission [Ursula von der Leyen], I believe will hold to that October 31st deadline. 

“So really the government has two arguments that they want to get across - that it’s a sovereign people against a mon-sovereign parliament, and it’s Britain against Europe.

“Pull the rug from under that argument by saying it’s not Europe that’s being inflexible, it’s up to Britain now, the October 31st deadline can be removed.

“I think if that happened next week it would help us win a vote in the House of Commons and and help put the pressure back on the government.” 

Speaking briefly to the media afterwards, Mr Brown said: “I think they [the EU] will withdraw it [the October 31 deadline]. That’s what I believe they should do and I believe they will do. 

“It’s got to be an offer. Under Article 50 it’s by agreement.”

He also said he believed there would be the required unanimity on the part of the EU27.

“I have been talking to people and I believe that to be the case. In fact, if you look back, about three weeks ago Ursula von der Leyen said she was prepared to do so.

“What I’m saying is there’s meetings next week that may make that offer. I think there’s a meeting of the Commission next week.”

Earlier, as he helped launch the pro-Union thinktank Our Scottish Future, Mr Brown also warned the government's lack of statesmanship and 'wise leadership' was making the current constitutional crisis worse.

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He said: "I think it's true to say that Boris Johnson is not just shredding the constitution, he's tearing our country apart.

"Britain is being broken up as a result of what he's doing and it will take years and perhaps decades to recover from the actions that are now being contemplated by this government if we are not in a position to stop them."

Martin Whitfield, Labour MP for East Lothian, said: “Boris Johnson has wrongly been trying to blame the EU for the current impasse, when it is his government which has set impossible red lines. It is his government that is inflexible, not the EU.

“If EU leaders are prepared to extend the deadline to give MPs more time to prevent a no-deal Brexit that would be an incredibly positive step.

“It is Boris Johnson who is trampling over our democracy, not the EU. Time is tight and we need to fight against his disastrous no-deal Brexit plan and fight to give the people the choice to remain in the EU.”

SNP MEP Alyn Smith was sceptical.

He said: "This latest intervention from Gordon Brown strikes me as fanciful, it isn’t even a Vow.  I dare say he speaks to people I don’t, but until I hear such an idea from Donald Tusk, Ursula von der Leyen, Michel Barnier or someone involved in the talks I’ll take it with a pinch of salt.

“The reality is that there’s no good brexit, and Scotland isn’t the problem, nor is the EU.

"The problem is a hopelessly divided Tory party hell bent on crashing the UK and Scotland with it. We’re facing this because we did not vote for independence in 2014. Many people I’ve spoken to in recent months are actively reconsidering how they voted in 2014, perhaps Mr Brown could do the same rather than clutch at straws I’m not convinced exist.”