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Michel Barnier tells Macron to learn lessons from Brexit or France could leave EU | Politics | News


The former Brexit negotiator warned the EU and France should not be complacent amid “social unrest” across the bloc as Euroscepticism rises across the continent. He said France could be next to leave the EU if they do not heed Brexit warnings.

Mr Barnier told a conference on Brexit and the future of the EU in Le Touquet, near Boulogne: “We could draw some lessons from Brexit for ourselves.

“It’s now too late for the UK but not for us.

“Let us ask ourselves: why this figure of 52 percent at the referendum?

“52 percent of citizens voted against Brussels, against the EU, so much so that they actually ended up leaving the union.”

He continued: “We can find, not just in the UK, but here in France, in the northern and eastern regions . . . citizens who want to leave the EU.

“They say the EU did not respond to legitimate desires of citizens, there is social unrest or anger, one might say, because there’s no protection of external borders, some people say, immigration flows are impacting us . . . and Europe is also often criticised for its red tape and complexity.”

Mr Barnier’s comments come after Clement Baune, the French Europe minister and close ally of Mr Macron, insisted Brexit showed the EU’s unity.

He said: “Back in 2016 people thought that this was the beginning of the end for Europe, but we have been able to show that we can be agile, that we can react, that we can be consistent in defending our interests in a firm way to defend the greatest European assets — the single market and our political unity.

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In January, anti-EU campaigners in France, Italy and Spain were in talks to draft a joint manifesto and abandon the Brussels project once and for all.

Back in January, Mr Barnier said other EU nations need to “draw lessons” from Brexit and understand why the British public voted to leave.

He told the Telegraph: “We have to draw the lessons of Brexit.

“We have to understand why 52 percent of the British people voted against Europe.

“It is obviously too late for the UK but it is not too late for other member states.

“But this risk can be combated by proof that it is clearly a better situation to be inside the EU than outside.”

Mr Barnier also warned Brexit has “exposed the consequences” of leaving the EU.

He said: “Brexit has exposed the consequences of leaving the EU for all to see.

“Even though we have a deal, the UK’s choices man there will be inevitable short-term and long-term consequences.”

He also added how part of the solution would be to “build a Europe that not only protects but also inspires a Europe that Europeans would never dream of leaving.

“Why should we leave the EU debate to anti-EU parties?

“For those who believe in the European project, this is not the time to sit back and be complacent.”



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