Emmanuel Macron enraged EU leaders in Brexit row: ‘Very irritating!’

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France and the UK clashed on a number of issues during the Brexit negotiations, with fishing, trade and borders all sparking disputes between London and Paris. President Emmanuel Macron was warned in December that he was playing a “dangerous game” by threatening to veto a Brexit trade deal. Mr Macron’s Europe Minister said at the time: “We have to prepare for a risk of no deal but this is not what we want. I still hope that we can have an agreement but we will not accept a bad deal for France.” This wasn’t the first time Paris risked the prospect of a no deal Brexit, as Mr Macron infuriated other European leaders in 2019.

At the time, then Prime Minister Theresa May had failed to get approval for her withdrawal agreement, and was looking for an extension.

But the French President said the extension would not be logical.

He added: “We would have decided to weaken our institutions, by having a member who is permanently there but leaving.

“It’s true that the majority was more in favour of a very long extension. But it was not logical in my view, and above all, it was neither good for us, nor for the UK.

“I take responsibility for this position, I think it’s for the collective good.”

This led to anger from other leaders, as German officials were said to be “very irritated” with Mr Macron.

EU negotiator Michel Barnier backed the French President, saying that Mrs May could be presented with a take-it-or-leave-it delay with a review at a later date.

But this stance was described as “nonsense” because as a member state the UK would have the right to veto any attempt to kick it out of the union.

Mrs May was unable to get a deal through Parliament, a feat Prime Minister Boris Johnson achieved before also reaching a trade deal, implemented in January.

After a deal was eventually met, Mr Macron’s ally Clement Beaune claimed that “Brexit is not good for the EU”.

Paris’ Europe Minister said: “I think we need to say what we think; I continue to think that Brexit is a bad thing, it’s a personal and political opinion, it will be a bad thing for the UK, it’s not good news for the EU.

“I know it wasn’t a happy day for them or for me, I don’t forget that in some areas, like Scotland, Brexit is still a difficult moment.”

Mr Beaune said he hoped the UK would return to the EU one day.

He continued in an interview with Politico: “I don’t forget that there are veterans and youths who were hoping for a future within the EU and hope to rebuild it another way or return one day.

“I hope the UK will return to the EU one day, to be honest.”

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The most recent tensions between the EU and UK have come as a result of restrictions on British exports of shellfish to the bloc.

Brussels has told British fishermen they are barred indefinitely from selling live mussels, oysters, clams and cockles to EU member states.

The shellfish can be transported to Europe, but only if they have been treated in purification plants.

The move combined with the new bureaucracy of exporting into Europe as a result of Brexit has left many fishermen and business owners in a difficult position.

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