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Brexit: French minister says Britain has taken EU hostage

Britain's referendum on whether to leave the European Union marks the end of an era for a bloc that has lost its political direction, French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said Friday.

Brexit: French minister says Britain has taken EU hostage
Photo: AFP
“I believe in Europe, but in its reorganisation,” Macron told RTL radio.
   
“It's the end of an ultra-liberal Europe that has lost its political direction,” Macron said. “The European project cannot only be a system of abolishing rules.”
   
He said the heart of the British debate was correcting the effect of ultra-liberal policies “that they pushed us into.”
   
“The issue is not whether we can be more competitive, if we should open up this or that market, it is whether we can succeed in living better, together,” the 38-year-old former Rothschild banker said.
   
And while Macron said people should have a voice on the future of Europe, he felt the June 23rd referendum was “dangerous” and that Britain had “taken the rest of the European Union hostage”.
   
The outspoken minister, who regularly polls higher than unpopular President Francois Hollande and is thought to harbour presidential ambitions, said that if Britain voted to leave, the EU would need to “act fast to avoid other countries starting a similar process.”
   
“There must be no question of Denmark, the Netherlands, Poland, deciding they want the same status,” he said.
   
Macron said that Britain could still have access to the EU single market, even if the country chose to exit the bloc, citing the cases of Norway and Switzerland.
   
“These countries contribute to the EU budget,” he noted.
   
Macron said that if Britain does pull out, it could have a “positive effect” on the French economy, and while it would create turbulence on the markets he did not believe it would last.
   
“I think we have the collective capacity to reassure.”
 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

A week after chaotic scenes and 6-hour queues at the port of Dover, the British motoring organisation the AA has issued an amber traffic warning, and says it expects cross-Channel ports to be very busy once again this weekend as holidaymakers head to France.

Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

The AA issued the amber warning on Thursday for the whole of the UK, the first time that it has issued this type of warning in advance.

Roads across the UK are predicted to be extremely busy due to a combination of holiday getaways, several large sporting events and a rail strike – but the organisation said that it expected traffic to once again be very heavy around the port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel terminal at Folkestone.

Last weekend there was gridlock in southern England and passengers heading to France enduring waits of more than six hours at Dover, and four hours at Folkestone.

The AA said that while it doesn’t expect quite this level of chaos to be repeated, congestion was still expected around Dover and Folkestone.

On Thursday ferry operator DFDS was advising passengers to allow two hours to get through check-in and border controls, while at Folkestone, the Channel Tunnel operators only said there was a “slightly longer than usual” wait for border controls.

In both cases, passengers who miss their booked train or ferry while in the queue will be accommodated on the next available crossing with no extra charge.

Last weekend was the big holiday ‘getaway’ weekend as schools broke up, and a technical fault meant that some of the French border control team were an hour late to work, adding to the chaos. 

But the underlying problems remain – including extra checks needed in the aftermath of Brexit, limited space for French passport control officers at Dover and long lorry queues on the motorway heading to Folkestone.

OPINION UK-France travel crisis will only be solved when the British get real about Brexit

The port of Dover expects 140,000 passengers, 45,000 cars and 18,000 freight vehicles between Thursday and Sunday, and queues were already starting to build on Thursday morning.

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