UK sovereignty on Brexit must be respected - Minister
European Union – Brexit – Excerpts from the interview given by Mme Amélie de Montchalin, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to France 2
Paris, 23 April 2019
Q. – The British Parliament is going to resume its work, and I don’t know if everyone has understood this, but the idea is still to leave Europe even before the European elections, which will be held on 26 May. We understood the Brexit date had been postponed until 31 October; in fact Theresa May’s aim is to move much faster. Is that your wish?
THE MINISTER – The collective desire is for this political crisis – which is first and foremost a British political crisis – to be resolved.
Q. – But is resolution by means of an exit obligatory?
THE MINISTER – The outcome we’d like is for things to be done in an orderly fashion, and therefore for the British to leave the European Union in accordance with the much-talked-about withdrawal agreement, so that things go well, there’s no radical break and it’s not a crisis. British MPs are heading back to Westminster today; it’s essential for us to see whether they can reach an agreement. It’s now six months since we made proposals....
Q. – Yes, but sorry: European Council President Donald Tusk dreams – and I quote – of Brexit never happening, so we’re a little bit lost.
THE MINISTER – That’s where we have a big problem. As you know, I was previously a member of Parliament; if there’s one requirement, it’s to respect the vote. Some of us may not agree with Brexit taking place; the fact remains that it’s what the British voted for, it’s they who have sovereignty, they have a Parliament, they have elections, they have a Prime Minister, and it’s for them to decide.
Q. – Yes, but there are millions of people who march in London to demand a new referendum, as you know.
THE MINISTER – Yes, but in 2005 there were “yes” and “no” votes. In France, the referendum [result] was “no”. When the Lisbon Treaty was adopted, it was a real step forward for Europe – and I voted in favour, so I don’t have any qualms about it – but the fact that we went back on the French people’s vote created a huge democratic breakdown that we can still see today. We’re not doing any favours to the British by deciding for them, or by “locking them” inside Europe.Today, what we decided at the European Council with the heads of state a few weeks ago was that it was up to the British, above all, to decide. They can decide to leave the day after tomorrow, by voting on the withdrawal agreement...
Q. – ...They have to leave. Whether they leave the day after tomorrow or in a few weeks’ time, they must leave.
THE MINISTER – ...They may also still decide to call back Mr Tusk and tell him: “we want to stay after all”. It’s their sovereign decision, it’s up to them to decide, and if, by a sovereign, democratic vote in Westminster, some think it’s necessary to do a U-turn, that’s their decision; if they want to hold a second referendum, it’s their decision. What’s important is for the sovereignty of the British to be respected and for the vote to be respected; it’s a requirement – especially when you’ve been elected yourself – to respect the citizens’ vote, and I think that too often the financial and economic elite think they’ll decide for themselves. (…)./.