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Hollande: Brexit vote 'a grave test for Europe'

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Hollande: Brexit vote 'a grave test for Europe'
Photo: AFP
12:27 CEST+02:00
President Francois Hollande has said that the UK's vote for Brexit will be a grave test for the rest of Europe.

French President Francois Hollande held an emergency ministerial meeting on Friday morning to discuss the impact the Brexit vote from the UK on Thursday.

"The British vote poses a grave test for Europe, which must show solidity and strength in its response to the economic and financial risks," Hollande said.

He added that the vote was "a painful choice that he already regrets", and that France would continue to work with the UK, which he called a "great ally", reported the BFM TV channel. 

Expressing his chagrin over the vote, he said: "It always takes less time to undo than to do, to destroy than to build."
 
But "the choice is theirs, and we must respect it," the Socialist president said.
 
Echoing Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault's tweet earlier Friday that Europe must win back the trust of its people, Hollande said "the decision also requires a lucid awareness of the inadequacies of Europe's functioning and people's loss of trust in the project."
   
Brexit could also further support for far-right elements in the EU, he warned, saying: "There is a huge danger in the face of extremism and populism."
   
The French leader had on Wednesday warned that Brexit would have "extremely serious consequences".
   
"It's more than the future of the United Kingdom that is at stake, it's the future of the European Union," he said.
   
Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the vote revealed "a malaise that has been ignored for too long" within the EU.

Friday's historic vote sent tremors across the English Channel, where the rest of the political class had mixed reactions to the news.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen was - as perhaps could have been expected given the result - the quickest off the blocks to react to the referendum result in the UK.

The far-right national front leader hailed Britain's decision to leave the European Union and called for a similar referendum in France.

"Victory for Freedom! As I have been asking for years we must now have the same referendum in France and EU countries," the National Front (FN) leader tweeted.

Fears are high that a domino effect could see other countries following in Britain's footsteps, threatening the core of the European project.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo described it as a "sad day for Europe".

The mayor however vowed to continue building links between the UK and France.

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