Blow for Theresa May as Emmanuel Macron insists UK will have worse access to single market after Brexit

Posted On: 
18th January 2018

Britain must continue paying into the EU budget and accept European laws if it wants to maintain access to the single market after Brexit, Emmanuel Macron has told Theresa May.

Theresa May watches Emmanuel Macron at their Sandhurst press conference.
PA Images

In a stark warning, the French president said it was up to Britain to decide what type of relationship it wants with the EU after Brexit.

He said the UK could have the same relationship with the EU as Norway, which pays into its coffers in order to have tariff-free trade with the single market.

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But he insisted it would be "hypocrisy" for UK business - including financial services in the City of London - to continue to enjoy the access to the European market they currently enjoy once Britain leaves the bloc.

Speaking as he stood alongside Mrs May following a UK-French summit at the Sandhurst military academy, President Macron said he did not want to "punish nor to reward" the UK following the Leave vote in the 2016 referendum.

"I want to make sure that the single market is preserved because that is very much at the heart of the European Union," he said. "So the choice is on the British side, not on my side.

"They can have no differentiated access to financial services. If you want access to the single market, including the financial services, be my guest. But it means that you need to contribute to the budget and acknowledge European jurisdiction. Such are the rules and we know this is the system already in place for Norway.

"If you want a trade access, it will cover everything, but then it is not full access to the single market and to financial services. Otherwise, it’s closer to the situation of Canada.

"We have some trade agreements which allow access to all services, be they financial or others, access as well to any industry sector, but not the same level of relationship as if you were a member of the single market. And there shall be no hypocrisy in this respect, otherwise it will not work. Or we would destroy the single market and its coherence."

Although the Prime Minister has insisted that Britain will be leaving the single market and customs union after Brexit, President Macron's pointed remarks are a blow at the end of a summit designed to strengthen ties between France and the UK.

Earlier, Mrs May had said: "While this summit takes place as the UK prepares to leave the EU, we are and will remain a steadfast partner to our friends and allies.

"And a strong and deep relationship between the United Kingdom and France remains in both of our interests."


It was also confirmed that France will lend the Bayeux Tapesrty - which depicts the Norman Invasion on England in the 11th century - to Britain in 2022.

The Prime Minister said: "The loan of the tapestry will form part of a wider cultural exchange taking place between Britain and France over the next four years.

"I am honoured at the loan of such a precious piece of our shared history which yet again underscores the closeness of the UK-France relationship."

Mrs May also confirmed that Britain will give France nearly £45m to help boost security at the French border, while the UK has also agreed to take in more child migrants.

She said: "In 2016 more than 56,000 attempts by clandestines to cross the Channel were stopped at the UK’s juxtaposed border controls.

"The further investment we have agreed today will make the UK’s borders even more secure."