EU won't be 'intimidated' by Boris Johnson's government, says French minister

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) and French president Emmanuel Macron

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) and French president Emmanuel Macron - Credit: PA

France has hit back at the UK's government attempts to try to secure a Brexit agreement by warning that the EU "won't fall for a kind of intimidation at the European level".

The French have been angered by Boris Johnson's attempts to override the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement signed this year, which is a breach of international law.

Michael Gove this week warned that there could be huge queues of up to 7,000 lorries waiting to cross the Channel in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

But both measures have been dismissed as a way of trying to pressure the EU into handing the UK what it wants from Brexit.

France’s Europe minister Clément Beaune told the Financial Times: “Of course the signals that have been sent in the past few days are damaging. Anything which disrupts, disturbs or increases tensions in the negotiations is regrettable and we won’t fall for a kind of intimidation at the European level."

He added: “It won’t work. So let’s not waste time with these unfortunate tactical games and let’s negotiate fairly.”

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Beaune said that if Britain refuses to respect the EU's level playing field, it will also prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

“If we too have to prepare for ‘no deal’, we are aware of that and we are accelerating these preparations in France.

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“We are preparing for all scenarios. The best outcome is still to have an agreement. It’s desirable from a commercial, political and strategic perspective."

He added: “If — and I hope it’s not a serious possibility — if the commitments already made were not respected by the UK, it would obviously be extremely difficult for us to make other agreements and to organise our future relationship while having this doubt in our minds. 

“So I hope it’s just a bad moment. I hope the British parliament and the British government return to strict respect for the commitments made, which is effectively a condition for confidence and the putting in place of the future relationship.” 

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