Brexit’s legacy – and Britain’s tense relationship with Macron - by Stephen Booth

Updated: May 6

In a wide-ranging article for Conservative Home, Policy Exchange’s Stephen Booth assesses current Anglo-French relations across a range of policy issues following Emmanual Macron’s Presidential victory and its implications for UK policy makers here at home.

Those looking for a miraculous diplomatic change of tone, or fundamental policy changes, are set to be disappointed:

“Hopes of a swift reset of Anglo-French relations following Macron’s re-election look unlikely to materialise. France’s Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire, made a point of telling reporters after Macron’s victory that “our first challenge will not be the relationship between the UK and France.”

On political union, the French President's vision remains undimmed:

Macron is likely to double down on his vision for EU integration and “strategic autonomy”. He has some like-minded allies for this agenda, such as Italy’s Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, who this week called for “pragmatic federalism” in the fields of economy, energy, and security and defence.

His ambitions for a united European defence force as rival partner to NATO however, look increasingly unrealistic:

“The crisis in Ukraine has strengthened the position of key UK allies, particularly among the Nordics, Baltics, and several Eastern countries, that EU policy must not undermine or be in competition with NATO.

Macron’s previous efforts to open a seemingly unilateral dialogue with Vladimir Putin and his ambivalence towards US leadership of NATO continue to make them suspicious of French strategic direction in this area.

While Anglo-French agreement on Northern Ireland and the migrant crisis remains a distant prospect,

"France’s calls for a more interventionist and strategic EU industrial policy may find an increasingly receptive audience. This could have implications for economic competition and cooperation between the UK and the EU, particularly in strategic technological and energy sectors."

The root cause of current underlying tensions however

“remains the geopolitical fallout from Brexit, as viewed in London and in Paris, which are to be found in the concepts of Global Britain and EU strategic autonomy.

Both countries therefore look set to continue to rub along uneasily, mixing elements of cooperation and competition along the way, but the UK has tools at its disposal to offer a constructive Anglo-French and UK-EU relationship.”

The full article can be read here with a link to the original beneath it:

Article for Conservative Home by Stephen Booth - Brexit’s legacy^J the Northern Ireland Pr
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