President Macron talks up ‘unrivalled ties’ between France and the UK
The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, has praised the "strength of our unrivalled ties" he defended his "tough" approach to Brexit negotiations.
Writing in The Times this morning, he said: “Dear British friends, you are leaving the European Union but you are not leaving Europe.
“Nor are you becoming detached from France or the friendship of its people. The Channel has never managed to separate our destinies; Brexit will not do so, either.”
Describing Britain’s departure from the EU as a "shock", he said: “I am thinking of the hundreds of thousands of French citizens in the UK and British citizens in France who are wondering about their rights and their future: I assure them that we will protect them.
“In this respect, I know the feeling – however you voted in 2016 – that France was ‘tough’ from the start of the Brexit negotiation. I wanted to defend the existential principles of the way the European Union functions: compliance with our rules within the single market, European unity, and stability in Ireland.
“These are not bureaucratic inflexibilities but the very foundations of the European edifice.”
Elsewhere, EU President, Ursula von der Leyen warned: “Strength does not lie in splendid isolation, but in our unique Union.”
EUROPEAN COMMISSION: BILLION BILLED
As speeches were made throughout the UK and Brussels to mark the historic day, Britain was told to pay an extra £1.09 billion to the European Commission.
It comes as part of an annual recalculation of member states’ contributions to the EU budget. The £1.09 billion figure was reached after taking into account an increase in Gross National Income and VAT contributions.
Britain’s contributions in 2019 totalled £9 billion so if the figure is similar for 2020, the potentially penultimate payment could reach £10 billion.