Brexit: Clement Beaune says UK and EU can’t ‘play games’
And Clement Beaune, a close ally of French President Emmanuel Macron, has also predicted future difficulties in the implementation of the trade deal unveiled by Boris Johnson on Christmas Eve in a number of key areas – including fishing, underlining France’s determination to protect the interests of its own industry. Mr Beaune has been an outspoken critic of the UK’s decision to quit the bloc, having claimed the process was based on “lies” and accusing Prime Minister Boris Johnson of making a u-turn with the UK’s decision to pull out of Erasmus, the EU’s cultural programme for students.
Now he has floated the idea of Britain returning to the fold – less than a fortnight after Brexit was finalised.
He told Politico: “I think we need to say what we think.
“I continue to think that Brexit is a bad thing, it’s a personal and political opinion, it will be a bad thing for the UK, it’s not good news for the EU.”
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Mr Beaune claimed he had been sent letters from Britons unhappy at the decision to leave.
He said: “I know it wasn’t a happy day for them or for me, I don’t forget that in some areas, like Scotland, Brexit is still a difficult moment.
“I don’t forget that there are veterans and youths who were hoping for a future within the EU and hope to rebuild it another way or return one day.
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I hope the UK will return to the EU one day, to be honest
“I hope the UK will return to the EU one day, to be honest.”
He insisted France respected the choice the UK had made, demonstrated by the “time and effort” Brussels and Paris had put into striking the agreement ratified at the end of last year.
He stressed: “We were friendly since we sought to negotiate, we never slammed the door shut, or knocked over the tables.
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“We were demanding but we didn’t have a warring or aggressive attitude.”
However, he also hinted at future problems in the relationship between the EU27 and the UK.
He warned: “There are a lot of implementation and follow-up issues to figure out.
“It would be desirable to have a European task force with the same cross-functionality as EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier’s team had, dedicated to following up on this deal.”
Future arrangements for the granting of fishing licences, cross-border health care protocols and arrangements for the level playing field were all areas where future discussion was required, he said.
Mr Beaune returned to the subject on Twitter this morning, posting: “We have defended our interests and we will continue, but our commitment to the UK and its European roots remains.”
Last month Mr Beaune stirred up controversy last month after he appeared to taunt Britain over the French blockade of UK lorries after the emergence of a new variant of COVID-19 – while boasting that there would be no food shortages in his own country.
Sharing a picture of hundreds of lorries parked up close to Dover, he tweeted: “For all the pseudo-patriots who praise the permanent closure of borders every day.”
He also told French broadcaster BFM there would be no food shortages in France as a result of Mr Macron’s decision.
His words triggered an angry reaction, not least from former Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who told Express.co.uk: “The arrogance of these people knows no bounds.
“No Deal is better than an agreement with people that hate us.”
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