Macron: Vote to leave EU was based on 'false information and lies'
Story Code : 772393
In his toughest attack on the June 2016 referendum which led to Britain voting to exit the bloc, the President of France said it had been “manipulated from the outside” and by populism.
He also said that Britain leaving the EU without a deal would be “scary for everyone,” and especially the British themselves, as they would be “the first victims.”
Instead Mr. Macron said he believed the British would now ask for more time to negotiate a new trade deal.
Mr. Macron heard about Tuesday night’s crushing parliamentary defeat of Prime Minister Theresa May’s flagship exit plan while he was taking part in a live TV debate of his own in Normandy.
He said: “Look at what our British friends are going through. The people voted No [to the EU] on false information and lies.”
Mr. Macron added: “And their representatives are unable to implement [Brexit].”
Speaking more widely about the issue of referendums, Mr. Macron said they were a poor form of democracy, and that parliamentary government should be respected at all times.
“When there’s a difficult decision to be made, it’s often elected representatives who make them, because they integrate the constraints,” said Mr. Macron. “Difficult decisions are rarely made by referendums.”
Mr. Macron was talking to mayors in the town of Bourgtheroulde, near Rouen, and pointed out how the increasingly violent and populist Yellow Vest movement in France was demanding regular referendums.
“We must not create a situation where there is competition between forms of democracy,” said Mr. Macron.
He said that the “sovereign people, through their representatives” were best qualified to decide a country’s future.
Mr. Macron made it clear that the British would be the "first victims" if they withdrew without a trade deal.
He said: “First option, they go towards a no deal. They say there’s no deal. That's scary for everybody. The first losers in this would be the British.
“Second option, they tell us - in my view, that's what they'll do, I know them a bit - we'll try to improve what we can get from the Europeans and we'll have another vote.
“In that case, we [the Europeans] will look into it, maybe we'll make improvements on one or two things, but I don't really think so because we've reached the maximum of what we could do with the deal and we won't, just to solve Britain's domestic political issues, stop defending European interests.”
After praising the head of the European Council Donald Tusk and the EU's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, Mr. Macron said he expected Britain to eventually ask for more time to renegotiate a deal.
“There's a third option, which is to say - and in my view they'll start with the second option and then we'll eventually end up with the third - actually, we're going to take more time to renegotiate something,” he said.
Highlighting the “uncertainty and worries” and wishing Mrs. May “good luck,” Mr. Macron said he would “take the bet that the British will ask for a deadline to leave past the European elections.”
At present, Britain is due to leave the EU at the end of March, while the European Parliament elections are set to be held on May 23 to 26.
A total of 751 MEPs currently represent some 500 million people from 28 member states, but in February 2018 the European Parliament voted to decrease the number of MEPS to 705, in line with the UK leaving.
Mr. Macron, who was elected in President of France in May 2017, originally displayed a hard line against Brexit, at one stage before his win calling it “a crime.”
But until tonight he had toned down his attacks on the British leave vote while in office, saying he was leaving negotiations to senior EU representatives.