"You remain at our side", President tells UK
United Kingdom – Statements by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, at his press conference following the European Council (excerpt)
Brussels, 13 December 2019
Finally we discussed Brexit, in the context, of course, of the British election held yesterday. First of all, I want to congratulate Boris Johnson here on his very clear election victory. So the time for clarity has come, and I hope the withdrawal agreement concluded in October can be ratified as quickly as possible, for a departure on 31 January. That’s the position consistently taken by France, as you know, and so in this regard I welcome this moment of clarification.
The key thing now – and the most difficult thing in many respects – is, on the one hand, to implement the content of that agreement in the coming weeks and months, with some very technical points on the relationship with Ireland, for example, and many other issues, but also to establish our future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom, with the three major principles we endorsed this morning. First of all, developing the closest possible relationship on trade, security and defence, particularly because the UK remains in Europe, alongside us. The second principle is to safeguard the European Union; that’s why we confirmed our confidence in the work of the Commission and especially that of Michel Barnier, who remains our sole negotiator, and this approach has demonstrated its strength and effectiveness. And – third principle – to defend our strategic interests, which we’ll specify at the beginning of February in a negotiation mandate, being clear about our priorities: in particular, conditions for fair competition, fisheries and – as I was saying – our cooperation on internal and external security.
At a time when this relationship is going to be built, and the day after an important democratic moment, as this British election was, I also want to say to our British friends and allies something very simple: in this general election, you have confirmed the choice made a little over three years ago. But you aren’t leaving Europe, you remain at our side and we remain at yours. Our history, our geography, our values bind us beyond events, difficulties and disappointments, and so France in particular passionately cares about this relationship forged by battles in a shared history, and about this responsibility and this geography. (...)./.