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01.02.2020 Europe

'Brexit is historic warning for Europe'- Macron

By RFI
Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP
LISTEN FEB 1, 2020

French President Emmanuel Macron has labelled Britain's withdrawal from the United Kingdom a "historic warning" for Europe, blaming Brexit on Eurosceptics' lies.

"Brexit occurred because we made Europe a scapegoat for our own problems," Macron said in a short televised address at the Elysée palace on Friday.

"This departure is a shock. It's a historic warning sign which must... be heard by all of Europe and make us reflect," Macron said.

The French leader, who was elected on a promise to transform the EU, also argued that Britain's decision to leave was enabled by the fact that "we did not change Europe enough."

Faced with competition from China and the US, "we need more Europe", he went on, reiterating the themes of his historic Sorbonne speech of September 2017.

Calling Friday a "sad day" he attacked the "lies, exaggerations, simplifications and checks promised that never arrived" from the Brexit referendum campaign of 2016.

New chapter
"We must always remember where lies can lead our democracies," he said solemnly.

Macron, who hosted the EU's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier earlier Friday for talks in Paris, also sounded a firm note on the upcoming negotiations between London and Brussels on their future relationship.

While saying he hoped for the "closest, most solid, most enduring partnership possible" he warned: "It won't be the same as the relationship we have had for several decades. You cannot be both in and out."

Other leaders like former President of the European Council Donald Tusk struck a more conciliatory tone.

After nearly half a century of integration with its closest neighbours, Britain will leave the European Union on Friday 31 January at midnight in Paris, starting a new chapter in its long history.

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