French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday that Britain's departure from the EU on Friday would be a “sad day” and represented a “lesson for us all”.
Speaking after a meeting in Paris with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis the French leader said: “Britain is leaving the EU in two days, it's a sad day, a failure and a lesson for us all.”
At the same time, he warned London that France will “not bow to pressure or haste” in negotiations on a future trading deal.
Earlier on Thursday various French ministers also gave their view on Brexit with Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian stressing that the “the hardest part lies ahead” in negotiations between Britain and the EU on their post-Brexit relationship.
“We're going to get down to brass tacks now,” Le Drian told parliament, referring to Britain's departure from the EU on Friday, adding it was crucial that remaining bloc members stand united in talks on a future trade agreement.
Meanwhile the country's Europe Minister Amélie de Montchalin outlined the country's official position stressing that France wants a close relationship with the UK after Brexit, but will also seek to protect its own citizens, businesses, fishermen and farmers.
After Brexit Day on January 31st an 11-month transition period begins.
During this time life for British and European citizens will remain largely as it was before, but for governments this marks the start of an intense period of negotiations where the future relationship on all sorts of aspects, from citizens' right to healthcare .
The timetable is tight and de Montchalin told reporters that if the UK requests an extension to the talks, france will be unlikely to oppose that.