Macron says that the EU is ‘stronger’ following Brexit
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Emmanuel Macron has been warned he is on collision course with Liz Truss over Brexit and that fragile relations between Britain and France could get even worse. The UK’s new Prime Minister held talks with the French President at a UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday and the two leaders stressed the need for a “constructive relationship”. But they did not discuss the thorny Brexit issue of the Northern Ireland Protocol or illegal migrant crossings in the English Channel .
The French Government threatened legal action against the UK during an explosive row over post-Brexit fishing licences for its fishermen, and have joined the EU in expressing anger over Britain’s position on the Northern Ireland Protocol. Both countries havealso been at loggerheasdsover how to stop the influx of illegal migrants across the English Channel.
During the Tory leadership contest, Ms Truss risked sparking a diplomatic row when she declined to give a clear answer when asked during a hustings event if Mr Macron was a “friend or foe”, instead insisting the “jury’s out”.
But prior to the meeting between the two leaders in New York earlier this week, a leading Frexiteer and critic of Mr Macron warned the early indications from Ms Truss’ premiership are not good news for the French President.
Eric Noirez told Express.co.uk: “In view of the precedents and the obvious tensions between the two figures, and provided that Ms Truss matches her words with deeds in the direction she intends to take the UK, it seems clear that her accession to the post of Prime Minister is not at all good news for Emmanuel Macron.
“The political line she will defend, respectful of Brexit and drawing a horizon where the European Union will legitimately have only an anecdotal place, will oppose head-on the totally Eurocentric and Eurofanatic vision of President Macron.
“Liz Truss refused to answer the question of whether Macron was a friend or foe because she remembers Macron’s particularly indelicate and aggressive attitude during the post-Brexit negotiations on fisheries agreements.
“The French President made unseemly threats and showed little inclination to accept, ultimately, the sovereign decision of the British people to regain control of their territory, and in particular their marine territory.
“Through these frictions that we have seen in the post-Brexit maritime agreements – they are in fact perhaps only a foretaste of what the Franco-British relationship will be like in the months to come.
“There are two deeply incompatible visions that are confronting each other, with Liz Truss on the one hand, who has become firmly Eurosceptic, and Emmanuel Macron on the other, who sees the future and the resolution of problems only through the illusory and very dogmatic prism of the European Union.”
Despite their differences, Mr Noirez believes the two leaders actually have a lot in common and “logically, should get along well”.
But he warned that might not be enough to hold their relationship together, and has predicted future “hostility” between Mr Truss and Mr Macron.
The Frexiteer said: “It is amusing to note that, on paper, Truss and Macron have a lot in common – both are fervent Atlanticists, for example – and should logically get along well.
“Truss has been described as the new Margaret Thatcher and Macron has often been described as a sort of French Margaret Thatcher.
“And yet, despite their obvious ideological affinities, we can see that these two do not get along or like each other very much, because we see the question of the EU and national independence is the central and predominant question in the political debate in Europe.
“It is a question that conditions the political projects of nations, and I think that it will inevitably have negative consequences for the Franco-British entente.
“It is the cause of the hostility that can be felt between Macron and Truss. And it will amplify the current points of contention.”
Mr Noirez also believes Ms Truss could yet follow through with threats to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which would rip up large parts if not all of the post-trading mechanism.
Any such move would exacerbate tensions between the UK and the EU – likely leaving Mr Macron furious.
He concluded: “On the specific issue of Ireland, which is becoming increasingly intractable, it seems to me very likely that Mrs Truss will sooner or later be forced to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“Politically, diplomatically and legally, such a move would exacerbate tensions between the UK and the EU.
“I have no doubt that such a scenario will not make Emmanuel Macron smile, because I believe that Britain will emerge stronger and more united and the EU weaker.”
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