Accept EU deal or face 'economic disaster', French minister warns Britain's Brexiteers

AFP/The Local
AFP/The Local - [email protected] • 16 Nov, 2018 Updated Fri 16 Nov 2018 11:23 CEST
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French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said Friday that Brexit advocates must choose between accepting the deal negotiated by London and Brussels for leaving the EU or risk "economic disaster" and blasted "a number of lying politicians in Britain".


"The choice now faced by British political leaders who have advocated Brexit is to renounce their absurd political promise or face economic disaster, with the British people the main victims," Le Maire said at a Paris forum on reforming the World Trade Organization.

"What does Brexit demonstrate? It shows that leaving the common European market has an exorbitant economic cost," he said.

"There are a number of lying and irresponsible politicians in Britain who told the British people that Brexit would turn out to be a golden tomorrow," he added.

Le Maire's comments came as British Prime Minister Theresa May battles to salvage her draft Brexit deal and her own political future.

After a tumultuous Thursday in which several ministers resigned and members of her own conservative party plotted to oust her, May said in a radio 
interview Friday that she believed with "every fibre of my being" in the Brexit course.

Members of parliament on all sides have warned her there is no way the plan can win their approval, but she has dismissed calls to quit, saying: "Am I going to see this through? Yes!".

Critics of the deal say May has conceded too much to Brussels, while EU supporters are calling for a new vote on whether to leave the union.

Earlier this week when news the deal emerged Le Maire said the agreement was good news for the French economy.

The fact that an agreement has been found "is good news for the French economy, good news for all French firms. It's in everyone's interest that Brexit should go ahead smoothly", he told France 2 TV.

"It should allow both us Europeans and Britain to find a way out which is in everybody's interest," he added.
But echoing comments made Wednesday by government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux, Le Maire also warned that France should be "cautious" ahead of full agreement on the Brexit deal and "guard French and European interests".
"If Britain remains in the customs' union, we must be sure that Britain respects all European rules", including "fiscal rules and environmental norms", he said.
The deal "must not weaken our common market", he added.
Later however the French PM Edouard Philippe insisted that preparations for a no-deal Brexit would carry on, given that there was still a long way to go before the deal was ratified.

"There's no way to know if an accord will finally be agreed," Philippe said during a visit to Dunkirk, northern France, to discuss the eventual consequences of Brexit for French port operations.

"It will not have escaped attention that British political news might feed questions and worries as to whether the accord will effectively be ratified," he said.

"So we have to prepare for the possibility that is still on the table -- which we do not want, I say that very clearly, but which is still on the table -- of an exit with no deal," Philippe said.





AFP/The Local 2018/11/16 11:23

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