France will not cave in to Boris Johnson’s Brexit demands despite desperately needing a trade deal to prop up its economy, the report said. French President Emmanuel Macron’s Europe adviser said the EU cannot be “weak” in the upcoming tussle over access to Britain’s fishing grounds and regulatory alignment. France’s European affairs minister Clement Beaune insisted Paris would not rubber-stamp a trade agreement unless the UK respects its hardline demands.
Mr Beaune said: “Regarding Brexit, we could accept out of convenience an agreement that is too fast and too weak.
“It is in our interest and the economic interest of many sectors in France, but we can’t be weak.
“We can’t accept access to our market if they don’t respect our rules in terms of competition, environment and health.
“We can’t talk about sovereignty and independence if we don’t pass the test of sovereignty and independence that Brexit represents.”
Macron ‘following in de Gaulle’s footsteps’ in France’s hardline Brexit stance
France’s European affairs minister Clement Beaune
European capitals fear the chances of a no deal Brexit have dramatically increased because very little progress has been made since June.
Mr Beaune’s comments are no surprise, though, as ever since Britain left the EU, the French President has adopted an intransigent attitude towards the UK.
For example, in April 2018, Mr Macron was the only EU leader who refused former Prime Minister Theresa May a much longer Brexit extension.
Unearthed reports suggest he might be following in the steps of his predecessor, former French President Charles de Gaulle.
In a recent column for The Spectator, journalist Jonathan Miller wrote about Mr Macron: “The British have much to offer France in inward investment and defence cooperation, not least in the Sahel. Why this petty connerie, then, from Macron?
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French President Emmanuel Macron
Former French President Charles de Gaulle
“Curiously, given that the French export more to the UK than the UK to France, and there has been a vast exchange of population, to mutual benefit, all these deep and constructive relationships seem less important to Macron than protecting the ideological purity of the EU by flagellation of those seeking an exit from this nirvana.
“Or maybe there is more to it.”
When you have eliminated the impossible, the journalist argued, the only explanations that seem to fit the facts are that Mr Macron is a victim of grandiosity, a condition to which inhabitants of the Elysée are especially susceptible.
Or, Mr Miller wrote, that a different scenario has presented itself, and that he is suddenly “terrified”.
He explained: “Here is my theory du jour. It is that Jupiter is existentially frit that Brexit will be a roaring success.
“Perhaps he has read Le Brexit va réussir (Brexit is going to succeed) by the brilliant Marc Roche, London correspondent for Le Monde for 25 years, who believes the perfidious Brexiteers will have the last and loudest laugh, mocking Europe, the bright lights beckoning, a stone raft turned to gold, like Singapore or Hong Kong.
“There is in theory a door C: that Macron has been convinced the British can be forced into a second referendum.
“But this has to be unlikely.
“The Prime Minister of Malta thinks this. Macron is smarter.
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Former Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan
“It is not at all clear he really wants us in the EU at all. One of his heroes is de Gaulle.”
General de Gaulle famously kept the UK out by vetoing its entry on two occasions.
The EEC – the precursor to the EU – was formed at the 1957 Treaty of Rome after a thawing in relations between European nations after World War 2.
Two years later, de Gaulle was elected President of France and, although not instrumental in the EEC’s formation, he went on to become a key figure in the history of the organisation.
It was his stance on Britain’s proposed membership, though, that can be seen as resoundingly prophetic to today’s Brexiteers.
Britain initially declined to join the Common Market but, by the late Fifties and early Sixties, living standards in France and Germany began to exceed those in the UK so then Prime Minister Harold Macmillan began negotiations to join.
However, de Gaulle kept the UK out by vetoing its entry in 1963 and then again in 1967.
At a press conference in 1963, de Gaulle cited Britain’s economic and historical “peculiarities”, including its links to the US as well as the Commonwealth – which, he claimed, had the potential to impact upon the future cohesion of the Common Market.
He also famously told the German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer in 1963: “Europe is France and Germany, the rest are just the trimmings.”
At a meeting in 1967, de Gaulle argued Britain’s historical links to the Commonwealth and links with the US meant that British entry into the Community would be destabilising and that Britain would be a divisive force among member states.
Explaining the reason why the French President wanted to keep Britain out, former Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan said: “First, he wanted France to be the dominant force within the EEC and I think that’s hard to argue with.
“But the second and more subtle argument is one he is rarely given credit for.
“He in some ways understood Britain better than its own leaders of that era did.
He made a speech explaining one of his vetoes when he said Britain has always been a maritime country.
“Lengthy supply lines, its trading patterns means it will never comfortably assimilated into a continental block.
“I think that’s true and it never ceased to be true.”
“Britain is a semi European country in a way that I think the other members struggle to understand.”
After de Gaulle’s death, Britain again applied to join the EEC and, with his successor Georges Pompidou serving as French President, Prime Minister Edward Heath took Britain into the bloc in 1973.