The Prime Minster, Theresa May, set the menu for top level talks with Emmanuel Macron, the French President, by hosting a British lunch at a pub in her constituency of Maidenhead last week. The Michelin starred pub is owned by Sir Michael Parkinson and his son Nick.
In his recent visit to the UK, Emmanuel Macron, the French President, warned that Britain cannot have access to the single market without open borders. Mr Macron, said that a bespoke trade deal would be possible, but that the UK could not ‘cherry pick’ parts of different models. He also said that the group of member states would become 27 “unhappily” and that he would “love” to welcome the UK back into the European Union.
However, he stated that France would not give in to British demands for the financial services sector to be covered by a Brexit trade deal.
On Sunday, he appeared on the Andrew Marr Show saying there is a “competition between different countries” to attract financial services companies in the future and that France wanted “to attract the maximum activity.”
When he was asked if it was inevitable that Britain would leave, he replied: “I mean, it’s on your own. It depends on you. I mean, I do respect this vote, I do regret this vote, and I would love to welcome you again.”
He also said full access for financial services to the single market “is not feasible”.
When asked if there would be a bespoke special solution for Britain, he said: “Sure, but… this special way should be consistent with the preservation of the single market and our 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 added: “So it’s something perhaps between this full access and a trade agreement.”
Macron said the City’s position as the centre of European finance should be something to be taken into consideration during negotiations but that France wants to attract “maximum activity” when it comes to luring financial services firms thinking of relocating.
The CBI, which represents the views of thousands of businesses across the country, is putting forward its argument against leaving a customs union, saying that the UK is not ready to form trade policy fully independent from the EU.
“There may come a day when the opportunity to fully set independent trade policies outweighs the value of a customs union with the EU,” she will say.
“A day when investing time in fast-growing economies elsewhere eclipses the value of frictionless trade in Europe. But that day hasn’t yet arrived.
“Remaining a member of a customs union for as long as it serves us to do so is consistent with the result of the [Brexit] referendum and would be good for EU firms too.”
This will also help solve the issue of the Irish border, she will say.