Last week, France warned Britain it is not “intimidated” by the numerous threats of a no deal Brexit. The country’s new Europe minister Clément Beaune vowed that French President Emmanuel Macron will be “intransigent” over his demands for full access to UK waters in the future. In his first public comments on the negotiations since being appointed on Sunday, he told France Inter radio: “We will not accept a deal at any price.
“Better no deal at all than a bad deal.”
Mr Beaune, who has been the French President’s closest adviser on Brexit for the past three years, said Paris would rather bail out coastal communities than accept the UK’s current demands.
He said: “Let’s not kid ourselves. If there is no deal, it will be a difficult issue. We’ll have to organise a response for sectors like fisheries. Support our fishermen financially. We’re not there yet.”
Mr Beaune’s comments are no surprise, though, as ever since Britain left the EU, the French President has adopted an intransigent attitude towards the UK.
Emmanuel Macron unmasked: French President’s ‘tough-guy’ stance on Brexit exposed
For example, in April 2018, Mr Macron was the only EU leader who refused former Prime Minister Theresa May a much longer Brexit extension.
According to journalist Angelique Chrisafis, his “tough-guy” stance is partly down to the French president’s personality, but the move is also political.
Ms Chrisafis wrote: “The 41-year-old, who stood for president without ever having run an election campaign then promised a grand plan to reform the European Union, is known for his impatience. He wants action. He likes to be centre stage.
“What really lies behind Macron’s tough line is that Brexit is becoming a political problem in France.
“His grand plan to overhaul the EU, from the eurozone to Schengen, is already complicated enough to deliver – with little consensus in other capitals on a joint future project.
“Time is slipping away and a never-ending Brexit hogging the agenda would limit Macron’s ability to achieve any part of it.”
Christian Lequesne, a professor at Paris’s Sciences Po, added: “First, there’s the question of temperament – Macron is someone of a certain impatience, which is different to Germany’s Angela Merkel, who likes to allow time for things to take shape.
“But the most important issue is that Macron has a political project for Europe, so he’s already thinking beyond the European elections.
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European affairs minister Clément Beaune
French President Emmanuel Macron
“And he feels Brexit has dominated too much of the agenda.
“Now France wants to get on to more serious things like eurozone reform, which won’t be easy, and the EU’s relations with China.
“And ultimately, Brexit has become a factor in the political campaign between the pro-Europeans, represented by Macron, and the Eurosceptics on various fronts … Brexit runs against the politics Macron wants to do.”
Their comments came in a 2018 column for The Guardian.
In a different column for The Spectator, journalist Jonathan Miller agreed and noted there is a reason behind Mr Macron’s “self-destructive” Brexit position: fear.
He wrote: “The British have much to offer France in inward investment and defence cooperation, not least in the Sahel. Why this petty connerie, then, from Macron?
“Curiously, given that the French export more to the UK than the UK to France, and there has been a vast exchange of population, to mutual benefit, all these deep and constructive relationships seem less important to Macron than protecting the ideological purity of the EU by flagellation of those seeking an exit from this nirvana.
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French President Emmanuel Macron with former Prime Minister Theresa May
Former French President Charles de Gaulle
“Or maybe there is more to it.”
When you have eliminated the impossible, the journalist argued, the only explanations that seem to fit the facts are that Mr Macron is a victim of grandiosity, a condition to which inhabitants of the Elysée are especially susceptible.
Or, Mr Miller wrote, that a different scenario has presented itself, and that he is suddenly “terrified”.
He explained: “Here is my theory du jour. It is that Jupiter is existentially frit that Brexit will be a roaring success.
“Perhaps he has read Le Brexit va réussir (Brexit is going to succeed) by the brilliant Marc Roche, London correspondent for Le Monde for 25 years, who believes the perfidious Brexiteers will have the last and loudest laugh, mocking Europe, the bright lights beckoning, a stone raft turned to gold, like Singapore or Hong Kong.
“There is in theory a door C: that Macron has been convinced the British can be forced into a second referendum.
“But this has to be unlikely.
“The Prime Minister of Malta thinks this. Macron is smarter.
“It is not at all clear he really wants us in the EU at all. One of his heroes is de Gaulle.”
General de Gaulle famously kept the UK out by vetoing its entry on two occasions.