The French President is meeting with Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, today at Clarence House. The visit is exempt from the usual 14-day quarantine required for people coming in from foreign countries. Mr Macron and the Prince of Wales are commemorating the 80th anniversary of General Charles de Gaulle’s appeal for French resistance during World War 2 and celebrating British-French solidarity in that conflict.
Mr Macron will also meet with Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Number 10 Downing Street while he is in the UK.
The pair have much to discuss in terms of the coronavirus pandemic and the arrangements for the UK’s exit from the EU.
In an effort to make progress, Mr Johnson will likely have to swallow any feelings he has about the insults Mr Macron has thrown at Brexit in the past.
For example, in an interview with Monocle in 2017, Mr Macron insisted that the slogan Take Back Control used by the Vote Leave campaign was not accurate, insisting that Brexit Britain will instead be enduring “servitude”.
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Emmanuel Macron has played hardball in Brexit negotiations
Boris Johnson will meet with President Macron today
He also directly called out Mr Johnson, who was Foreign Secretary at the time, as well as Nigel Farage, accusing them of a “crime” in that they pushed for Brexit and then left the fallout to be dealt with by Theresa May.
He said: “Boris Johnson enjoys giving flamboyant speeches but has no strategic vision; the turmoil he created the day after Brexit proves it.
“Nigel Farage and Mr Johnson are responsible for this crime: they sailed the ship into battle and jumped overboard at the moment of crisis.
“Theresa May has handled it but what has been happening since then?
Theresa May with the French President
“On the geopolitical level as well as on the financial, realignment and submission to the US.
“What is going to happen is not ‘taking back control’: it’s servitude.”
This criticism has remained pervasive since then: that without the backing of the EU, the UK will be forced to make large concessions to the US in order to secure a trade deal.
During the General Election campaign last year, then-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, insisted that the NHS was “up for sale” in a potential US-UK trade deal being discussed by the Tories.
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However, Mr Johnson dismissed his claims as “nonsense”, emphasising that the NHS was not part of any trade talks.
In the Monocle interview, Mr Macron hammered home his assertion that the UK will lose out from Brexit, because the EU must remain rigid in how it deals with other countries.
He said: “Britain must understand that our interest in the medium to long term is to have clear rules.
“So if Britain wants to trade with Europe it has to choose a model, such as the Swiss, Norwegian or Canada.
“We have to accept that there are losses. But it’s the British who will lose the most.
“You cannot enjoy rights in Europe if you are not a member ‒ otherwise it will fall apart.
“Europe is what has enabled us since 1945, in an unprecedented way, to preserve peace, security, freedom and prosperity in our continent.
“The British are making a serious mistake over the long term.”
Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron shaking hands
Other issues to be discussed at the meeting between the two world leaders today will be a potential “air bridge” between the UK and France this summer.
Mr Johnson said earlier this week that he would “obviously” discuss the ability of French and British citizens to “travel freely to and from each other’s countries”.
In their 45-minute meeting, Mr Macron is also expected to urge the UK to drop its 14-day quarantine rule.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “We’re going to look at it very carefully.
“As we’ve always said, the quarantine is there to stop the risk of reinfection precisely because we’ve got COVID down.
“We want to open up as soon as we safely and responsibly can and we will look at all the mechanisms to do so and of course we’ll have a good conversation with the French.”