Le Maire said that according to government estimates Brexit would only snip 0.1 percent off GDP in France in 2021 and French trade to Britain “was not much as far France's total global trade volume is concerned”.
He criticised the concept of Brexit, borrowing a phrase from the last novel by British spy novelist John Le Carré, whose death was announced on Sunday.
“Brexit, to quote a very simple phrase of John Le Carré – to whom I take this opportunity to pay tribute – is 'lunacy',” Le Maire told France Info radio.
“I regret that my British friends have to pay the price, because they are paying the price for populism, they are paying the price for lies,” he said.
On Monday EU chief Ursula von der Leyen expressed satisfaction over talks with Britain to agree a post-Brexit trade pact, saying there was progress as negotiators entered the “last mile”.
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“First of all there is movement. That is good… We are talking about a new beginning with old friends,” she told a conference organised by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
“We are on the very last mile to go. But it is an essential one. We want a level playing field, not only at the start, but also over time,” she added.
“This is the architecture we are building. We are fine about the architecture itself, but the details in it – do they really fit? These are crucial points because it is a matter of fairness, fair competition and we want to ensure that.”
Her comments came as EU and British officials were set to return to the negotiating table on Monday after von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed to abandon a supposed make-or-break weekend deadline.