UK must decide political relationship with EU: Emmanuel Macron

The French president says he hopes that Johnson will continue to see Europe and Britain's futures are linked
Last Updated 05 February 2021, 06:01 IST

French President Emmanuel Macron said he hopes British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government wants a "common destiny" with Europe but must decide on the post-Brexit model it wants, according to an interview published Saturday.

"What politics does Great Britain wish to choose? It cannot be the best ally of the US, the best ally of the EU and the new Singapore," the French president told The Guardian newspaper, adding that the UK "has to choose a model."

Britain left the European Union in January 2020 after over 40 years of membership and sealed its trade relationship with the 27-member bloc in an eleventh hour deal at the end of a year-long transition period in December.

"If it decides on a completely transatlantic policy then we (the EU) will need clarification, because there will be divergence on rules and access to markets," Macron said.

The French president also criticised visions previously advocated by Johnson that the UK could benefit from tax-free ports of the kind seen in Singapore.

"If (Britain) decides to be the new Singapore, which it has once suggested... well, I don't know. It's not for me to decide, but I would like good, peaceful relations," he said.

Macron on Friday told reporters the coronavirus vaccine developed by the British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca appeared not to be effective for people over the age of 65.

He made the comments just hours before the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended the vaccine for adults of all ages and the EU threatened to partially close Britain's border with the Republic of Ireland in the midst of a diplomatic spat over supplies of the vaccine.

Macron told The Guardian he laughed off personal attacks during last year's tense Brexit negotiations.

"Whenever there's a problem with the EU, the British just love to detest the French -- and me -- and say we are responsible," he said.

"I have accepted this role. Sometimes when there are tensions, I ask 'Why me?' -- perhaps making me out to be more important than I am!" he added.

The French president said he hoped ultimately that Boris Johnson would continue to see Europe and Britain's futures were linked.

"I am for common ambition and a common destiny. I hope Boris Johnson is also on that path, because I think the British people are. We remain allies. History and geography don't change," he said.

(Published 30 January 2021, 14:38 IST)

Follow us on