Both France and the U.K. have everything to play for in the final days of Brexit talks
Former British prime minister Teresa May famously said in July 2016, “Brexit means Brexit” after the British voted in the referendum to leave the EU. Since that time, the U.K. and then the EU have been trying to work out how to construct the most famous divorce in recent history.
The U.K. must leave by 31 December and the on-again, off-again Brexit negotiations are almost at an end–despite the fact that no one yet knows if there is a deal or not.
There has been fighting talk on both sides, from French president Emmanuel Macron, and prime minister Boris Johnson.
Both Macron and Johnson have a lot to lose
With the defeat of President Trump in the U.S., British prime minister Boris Johnson arguably needs the EU more than he wants–it is thought that Biden (who was anti-Brexit) is less likely to prioritize a U.S./U.K. trade deal, particularly when he is concerned about the implications of Brexit on northern Ireland and the peace deal.
And French president Emmanuel Macron has nothing to lose by pushing Britain hard. His polling numbers are down at home—he has come under attack for the way he has managed the Covid-19 pandemic. He is up for re-election next year, and he will lose votes if he is seen to concede too much ground on fishing rights. And as a keen pro-European, he is eager to see off any home-grown ideas of a ‘Frexit’ (a French exit from Europe) by showing how badly a country can fare on its departure from the EU.
Both sides have been blaming each other