Brexit: Michel Barnier says he will ‘keep calm as always’
Mr Macron has been strongly opposed to any changes to fishing rights in a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK. The French President’s hostility has proved a major hurdle in the negotiations and a EU insider has suggested he is actively pushing for a no deal.
Senior political sources in France have said Mr Macron has been keen to play “bad cop” in the current Brexit negotiations and would not mind if the talks failed to produce a deal.
The insiders said the French President would rather see the talks collapse than agree a bad deal, particularly over fishing rights.
Mr Macron fears such an outcome could pave the way for other states to quit the EU, which would damage his credentials as the architect of a stronger, more autonomous Europe.
Such a stance will form a key part of his re-election campaign, as he plans to emphasis a united EU has the power to protect itself from global rivals, pandemics, economic crises, migration and climate change.
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Though the next French election isn’t until 2022, Mr Macron wants to ensure he secures a second presidential term.
His rival is likely to be far-right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen, who is pushing for Brussels to have less control over member states.
As a result, Mr Macron is likely to campaign on his pro-EU stance and wants to see Brexit fail.
A political source told the Telegraph: “France’s stance is to show that Brexit cannot be a success.
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“From that view, the prospect of no deal is not necessarily a problem.”
France has warned it will veto the trade deal if the terms are not agreeable.
Clément Beaune, secretary of state for Europe and a close ally of Mr Macron, said: “I want to tell our fishermen, our producers, the citizens, that we will not accept a deal with bad terms.”
Other French politicians have backed Mr Macron’s tough approach.
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Jean-Louis Bourlanges, a centrist MP and long-time MEP, said: “You shouldn’t see the role of bad cop as negative because the bad cop is totally necessary in role play in order to reach a deal.
“That said, we’re incredibly sensitive about fishing.
“The fundamental problem is that we don’t want a temporary arrangement.”
Another insider suggested France was happy for a no deal outcome to take place, as the UK will end up coming back to the negotiating table in the New Year.
They said: “Beyond all the poker playing and brinkmanship, the French view is if the Brits are going to dig in their heels, let them leave and we’ll negotiate afterwards.
“That will focus minds in Britain. No deal would be temporary – Britain would come back with its cap in hand asking for a deal when it sees the chaos after December 31.”
A Brexit deal between the UK and Brussels currently hangs in the balance, as both sides said “significant divergences” remained last night.
Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen will seek to break the stalemate today.
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