Official speeches and statements - November 19, 2018
1. European Union - Brexit - Interview given by Ms. Nathalie Loiseau, Minister for European Affairs, to RTL (Paris - November 19, 2018)
Theresa May defended her agreement on Brexit at a press conference in the British Parliament earlier. So if there’s no agreement, it will be back to square one, she said this evening. She’s defending her agreement, "the best one for my country". More than ever she’s in an ejector seat, with ministers resigning. First of all, are you afraid British MPs will reject the agreement?
THE MINISTER - I’m not going to intervene in British domestic politics, but I have two observations.
Firstly, you see what you owe the European Union the moment you leave it, and many Britons today are noticing all the advantages they derived from belonging to the European Union. Secondly, throughout the negotiations conducted with great skill and commitment by Michel Barnier, the 27 European Union member states have remained much more united than the members of the British government.
Members of the British government are leaving one after another: is it complicated for the European Union and for France if the May government implodes?
THE MINISTER - What we hope is that there will be a good withdrawal agreement. We regret the British withdrawal, it’s not a decision we would have wished for, but we respect it and we’ve been at pains to organize the United Kingdom’s orderly withdrawal while protecting the interests of French citizens and French businesses. Today our responsibility, the government’s responsibility, is to be ready for every scenario and all different options.
So you’re preparing for a "no deal".
THE MINISTER - We’re also preparing for a "no deal". We’d like a good agreement, and that’s where we’ve put all our energy, but this morning I was with the Prime Minister in Dunkirk to ensure that we’re ready - in the event of no deal - to restore customs checks and health checks on entry to French territory, without jeopardizing the free flow of people and goods between the UK and the European Union, which we obviously want to maintain.
In conclusion, the hard Brexiteers believe that, with Theresa May’s text, the UK will remain subject to the European Union’s rules while no longer having any power. This text which she’s obliged to propose and which she’s having a lot of trouble with is, after all, a victory for Europe, because clearly we keep the rules but they no longer have any power.
THE MINISTER - No, that’s a caricature created by hard Brexiters, who, I’m afraid, have been playing political games from the outset. I admire those MPs who, apparently during the night, read the 585 pages of the draft agreement - I’ve read it, but because it’s my responsibility - and I notice that a lot of people are saying pretty much any old thing about that draft agreement.
In your view, the draft is good, isn’t it?
THE MINISTER - The draft concerns the UK’s withdrawal; we haven’t yet got onto the future relationship. We’re in the process of studying the draft and possibly tweaking it. There may still be a few elements that deserve to be clarified, but at any rate it enables the British to leave in good conditions. It’s for them to decide how they leave, with or without an agreement, but in every case we must defend the European Union, defend our citizens and defend our businesses. That’s what we’re doing.