William Hague (former foreign secretary and a former leader of the Conservative Party) writes on The Telegraph that last week has seen the most concerted British diplomatic push with our French neighbours in many years. Days after the new Foreign Secretary raced straight to Paris from his trip to China, the Prime Minister cut short her holiday to visit President Macron at his summer retreat. Their movements reveal the conclusion they have reached: France is the biggest national obstacle to a Brexit deal and the key country to unlock a change of attitude in the European Commission.
Hague writes that when Macron returns to the Elysée later this month, there will no doubt be a memo waiting for him about the British effort. I expect it will read, if translated, something like this:
“The British are valuable friends, but they are not going to end their military and intelligence work with us however Brexit turns out. By keeping them out of the Galileo satellite system we can make France the leading country in European space business. We are just getting some jobs transferred from London banks to Paris and can get more if we keep up the pressure. And you, Mr President, are now the foremost advocate of EU integration and unity, so you should not try to override Michel Barnier – a respected French negotiator – to give more of a special deal to the UK.
“Finally, if the ‘no deal’ scenario they are warning us about happens, there is a good chance their parliament will defer leaving, or order another referendum, leading to utter chaos in Britain but an object lesson in what happens if you try to leave the EU. We should maintain a hard line.”