The French President was warned this week to “learn lessons” from Brexit before it’s “too late”. The warning came from none other than the EU’s Brexit talks negotiator Michel Barnier at a conference on Brexit and the future of the EU in Le Touquet, near Boulogne. Mr Barnier said: “We could draw some lessons from Brexit for ourselves. It’s now too late for the UK but not for us. “Let us ask ourselves: why this figure of 52 percent at the referendum? Fifty two percent of citizens voted against Brussels, against the EU, so much so that they actually ended up leaving the union.
“We can find, not just in the UK, but here in France, in the northern and eastern regions… citizens who want to leave the EU.”
Mr Macron’s attention has been focused on the European debate across the English Channel in recent years.
One expert claimed in a 2019 BBC Newsnight film that the French President wanted to “send a message to the UK” that Britain must be worse off as a result of its decision in the 2016 referendum.
Sophie Pedder, author of ‘Revolution Francais’ said: “Populism is his principle adversary in France and it is his principle adversary in Europe.
“So if he feels, which he does, that Brexit is an expression of populist politics, then I think he wants to send a very clear message that Britain has to be in a worse position after Brexit.”
Stephane Sejourne, a former adviser to Mr Macron, added: “The President is very attached to the idea that a people’s vote is respected.
“That’s why he is so resolute today about implementing Brexit. It’s not because he is inflexible.
“It’s because he believes in respecting the decision made by the British people.
“They decided to leave, so we’ll help them leave with a deal.”
Ms Pedder’s comments on Mr Macron’s approach to Brexit echo a statement from French lawmakers in 2017 as they demanded that the UK must not have privileged access to EU markets.
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The report admitted the UK economy had weathered the early Brexit storm, but said weaknesses would be exposed.
The French lawmakers said rising household debt, a weakening of the commercial real estate market, the current account deficit and the devaluation of sterling could impact the UK.
The UK and the EU eventually reached a deal after trade talks last year, but when the agreement was implemented on January 1, Mr Macron was still critical.
He said: “The United Kingdom remains our neighbour, but also our friend and ally.
“This choice to leave Europe, this Brexit, was the child of the European malaise and of many lies and false promises.”