French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux on Monday warned against any attempt to punish or humiliate London over Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, saying that doing so would be the wrong approach.

His comments came just days after the EU published a document that shows it has the power to restrict British access to the single market during a transition period after it leaves the bloc, sparking outrage among British conservatives.

Mr Griveaux, told reporters from the Anglo-American press association during a meeting in Paris: 

“When a country leaves the European Union, it’s a failure for Britain and for the Union. You should never humiliate and never punish.

“No one shall be punished over Brexit. It’s the worst thing that could happen and I think it would reinforce anti-European sentiment in many countries where we have elections in a year’s time.”

Mr Griveaux, however, said the bloc should maintain its unbending stance during Brexit negotiations, reiterating the common EU line that UK could not ‘have its cake and eat it’ by attempting to “cherry-pick” parts of the single market it would like to hang on to, such as free trade, and dismiss others such as freedom of movement.

He said: “You need to be firm. Cherry-picking and saying ‘we’ll keep this freedom but not this one’ isn’t possible. Brexit means Brexit.

“And I’d like to remind you that if only one country opposes [the final divorce deal], there will be a rather hard Brexit…

“There can’t be things that get dealt with totally bilaterally, otherwise it won’t work.”

French officials have repeatedly made clear that Paris’ main objective in Brexit talks was to maintain the unity of the remaining 27 member states and the integrity of the single market.

French president Emmanuel Macron said in an interview with the BBC last month that Britain should be able to have a bespoke deal with the bloc after Brexit, but stressed that the accord would have to be “consistent with the preservation of the single market and our [the EU’s] collective interests”.

“And you should understand that you cannot by definition have the full access to the single market if you don’t tick the box,” he said.

Daily Express


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