Britain will leave the European Single Market and will not “cherry pick” parts of European Union membership to keep after Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May has said.
In an article for French newspaper Le Figaro, Mrs. May said it was important to maintain economic links with the EU, including “access” to the single market, but she added Britain cannot accept a continuation of freedom of movement.
“As we leave the EU, we will seek the greatest possible access to the European single market through a new, comprehensive, bold, ambitious free trade agreement,” Mrs. May wrote.
“This cannot, however, mean retaining membership of the single market.
“President Hollande [of France] and other European leaders have been very clear that this would mean accepting the ‘four freedoms’ of goods, capital, services, and people and I respect their position.
“Britain understands that EU leaders want to continue with the process of integration. We do not, to borrow the phrase, seek to cherry-pick which bits of membership we desire.”
She also warned in the article against giving Britain a bad Brexit deal as the UK is France’s fifth largest export market.
“UK companies are responsible for an estimated 230,000 jobs in France, and French companies for about 370,000 jobs in the UK,” she said, pointing out that the two countries have bilateral trade of €50 billion per year.
The article comes as Mrs. May meets French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve for talks in Downing Street.
Earlier this week, French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said Britain should not be “punished” for leaving the EU.
“What is the point in punishing a country?” she said. “It is senseless, unless you think the EU is a prison, and you are condemned if you escape. I want to rebuild our damaged relations with the United Kingdom.”
“A people decides its own destiny. You cannot force a country to do something that is against its own interests, or against the democratic process,” Ms. Le Pen added.