Northern France Region Leader on Brexit: ‘We Shouldn’t Seek to Punish the British’

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The president of the northern France territory which contains three major English Channel-facing ports has called on European negotiators to make concessions to Britain in Brexit negotiations to prevent the UK walking away with no deal.

Recognising that a so-called ‘hard Brexit’ — favoured by key Brexit campaigners such as Nigel Farage but a feared worst-case scenario for many in Europe — could severely impact the northern Hauts-de-France economy, president Xavier Bertrand is calling for a softer approach.

Speaking to Britain’s remain supporting Financial Times newspaper, Bertrand it calling on France’s President Emmanuel Macron to defend France’s best interests in giving Britain what it wants, rather than seeking a punitive deal which could see Britain walking away.

Bertrand said: “I am pushing the government . . . The divorce is settled, we must go full steam ahead [to influence trade negotiations]… Let’s not be naive. I don’t want my region to be outpaced by others.”

Many European regions and businesses stand to be impacted negatively if the European Union continues down the path of punishing Britain for deciding to leave the economic bloc. The United Kingdom is a significant market for European produced goods, which Bertrand recognises.

He remarked: “We shouldn’t seek to punish the British… I don’t want post-Brexit decisions that hurt cross-border regions… The idea is not to lose out but also to gain from it.”

The remarks of French regional President Bertrand follow others by fellow European leaders. Breitbart London reported in April the comments of Geert Bourgeois, the minister-president of Flanders, Belgium, who said some European nations were pushing to punish Britain, but “Flanders will be hit hard by what I call a hard Brexit” if the punishment succeeds.

One of Europe’s longest-serving foreign ministers warned in February that the European Union punishing Britain into a hard Brexit could lead to hundreds of thousands of job losses across the continent. Calling on Eurocrats to “remain calm” in Brexit negotiations, he said the UK should be “neither punished nor rewarded” for leaving the EU.

The likely consequences for Britain in a so-called hard Brexit would be more positive, however, as the director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) revealed in November, stating Britain leaving without a trade deal would not “be the end of the world”.

Pointing out that half of Britain’s trade worldwide is already on WTO terms, the trade boss said Britain leaving the EU properly could give it a head start on negotiating trade deals with the rest of the world, and could negotiate one with the European Union at a later date.

Calling Britain “no standards a minor economy or a minor player in the multilateral system”, he remarked: “I think Britain has an opportunity, a chance to contribute in a way that is consistent with the quality of your professionals and the size and importance of your economy.”

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