EU referendum: French minister says there will be no compromise after Brexit

Jake Cordell
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France has committed to drive a hard bargain in any Brexit negotiations
France has committed to drive a hard bargain in any Brexit negotiations (Source: Getty)

One of France's most senior ministers has warned the UK if it votes to leave the European Union in next week's referendum he will drive a hard bargain over the terms of its exit.

Emmanuel Macron, France's economy minister and seen as a rising star of French politics, said the UK should be prepared for a "total exit" if Leave campaigners triumph on 23 June, adding if the UK did vote to go, it would be relegated to a tiny player on the world stage.

Speaking to the newspaper Le Monde, Macron said: "Leaving the EU would mean the 'Guernsey-fication' of the UK, which would then be a little country on the world scale.

"It would isolate itself and become a trading post and arbitration place at Europe's border."

Read more: Boris Johnson doesn't want David Cameron's job after the referendum ... apparently

Macron went on to state that France would not be prepared to give any major concessions to the UK if it wanted to stay tied to the EU, implying they would have to opt for one of the current off-the-peg models, such as membership of the European Economic Area (EEA).

"If the UK wants a commercial access treaty to the European single market, the British must contribute to the European budget like the Norwegians and the Swiss do," he said.

"If London doesn't want that it must be a total exit. In the interests of the EU, we can't leave any margin of ambiguity or let too much time go by. You're either in or you're out."

The prospect of a UK leave vote being followed by a clamour for referendums in other countries was also a point of concern for Macron. He told the paper he wanted the UK to stay to avoid the "contamination" effect which could pose an existential challenge to the EU.

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