Macron Rejects May’s Brexit Speech, Demands EU Citizens’ Rights, Divorce Bill Are ‘Clarified’

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FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty

French President Emmanuel Macron has demanded that Brexit negotiations are put on hold until European Union citizens’ rights, the Irish border, and the ‘divorce bill’ are ‘clarified’.

Mr. Macron said that whilst he welcomed the prime minister’s “willingness” to move forward in Brexit negotiations, he demanded ‘more progress’ on these three issues.

“Before we move forward, we want to clarify matters concerning the settlement of European citizens, the financial terms of exit, and the question of Ireland,” he said.

“If these three points are not clarified, we will not be able to advance on the rest.”

The unabashedly pro-EU Macron became the youngest president of France in May, leaving Eurosceptics in Britain fearing the Frenchman would ensure France continues its hard line on Brexit Britain during negotiations.

Brexit leader Nigel Farage said at the time that Macron would be European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s “puppet”.

In Mrs. May’s keynote speech in Florence on Friday, directed at a European audience, she set out her plans for a two-year transition period after March 2019, when the country officially leaves the bloc, including continuing to pay into the EU and during which EU nationals would still be able to take advantage of Freedom of Movement to travel to and settle in the UK.

Speaking to Breitbart London, Brexit leader Nigel Farage said of the prime minister’s speech: “May’s vision for Brexit Britain is that we leave in name only and that all current arrangements, the status quo, is simply to be rebadged.

“In trade, security, science, she proposes no change whatsoever. And finally, most tellingly she said ‘we do not seek an unfair competitive advantage’. That statement is a sell out of our national interest, and a betrayal of Brexit.”

Figures from within the bloc’s establishment criticised May’s concessionary speech with EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier saying that whilst Mrs. May’s comments on EU citizens’ rights were a “step forward”, the UK’s position on the Irish border was still uncertain.

“The sooner we reach an agreement on the principles of the orderly withdrawal in the different areas – and on the conditions of a possible transition period requested by the United Kingdom – the sooner we will be ready to engage in a constructive discussion on our future relationship,” Barnier said.

European Parliament Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt also said that whilst the “additional clarifications” were welcome, some “important questions remain” over exactly how much the UK will pay, expressing concern that contributions to the EU will cease at the end of 2020.

“The UK government will have to come up with concrete proposals next week, during the fourth round of negotiations to bring full clarity,” Verhofstadt said.

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