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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Macron says Britain to be able to have bespoke post-Brexit deal

But City of London will not enjoy same level of access to EU

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May at an event at the Victoria and Albert museum in central London. Adrian Dennis / AFP
French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May at an event at the Victoria and Albert museum in central London. Adrian Dennis / AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday Britain would be able to have a bespoke deal with the European Union after Brexit, one of Prime Minister Theresa May's objectives.

But in an interview with the BBC, Macron said London's financial centre could not enjoy the same level of access to the EU under May's current Brexit plan, which envisages Britain leaving the EU's single market and customs union.

Macron has said in the past Britain could have pacts with the EU along the lines of those with Canada or Norway but not its own, special deal.

But asked in the interview whether that was fair, given how long Britain had been part of the EU, Macron said: "No, it's not a question to be fair or unfair. I take that as a reference. But for sure, you will have your own solution."

Asked whether there would be a bespoke, special solution for Britain, he replied: "Sure, but you will ... I take these two references because this special way should be consistent with the preservation of the single market and our collective interests.

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"And you should understand that you cannot by definition have the full access to the single market if you don't tick the box."

Macron insisted Britain would not get full access to the EU's single market without accepting its basic principles of freedom of movement and willingness to abide by EU jurisdiction.

"As soon as you decide not to join these preconditions, it's not full access," he said. "So it's something perhaps between this full access ... and a trade agreement."

Macron repeated a warning he made during a visit to Britain on Thursday that full access to the EU single market for Britain's financial services was not possible.

"It depends on the proposals made by the UK," he said. "But for sure, full access for financial services to the single market is not feasible, given the functioning of the single market - so by definition it's not a full access."

Mr Macron's comments undermine the position of some Brexit supporters who want to regain control of the UK's borders and shun the oversight of European courts while retaining access to the single market.

It will also dash the hopes of some in Britain who thought Mr Macron might be more flexible than German Chancellor Angela Merkel in negotiating a deal. President Macron's influence within the EU is on the rise as Mrs Merkel's position weakens following an election in September that eroded her power base. Mrs Merkel has still not been able to cobble together a coalition government even after months of talks with other political parties.

Britain and the EU struck a divorce deal last month that paved the way for talks on future trade ties and boosted hopes of an orderly Brexit.

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