Politics

Brexit latest: Macron blames Brexit and Yellow Vests for hitting French tourism

Mr Macron has blamed Brexit for France failing to meet its target of entertaining 100million tourists by the year 2020 – a goal which is now postponed- despite a report suggesting the slump is down to violent protests and the 41-year-old in fact blocking the UK’s exit from the EU. Mr Macron was keen to achieve the ambitious target of welcoming the staggering number of tourists to Paris when he first took office, with the target appearing to be achievable after 2018 saw 89million. But that same year also saw the emergence of Yellow Vest protesters who brought France to its knees as punishment for the young leader’s 23 percent fuel hike, starting fires, scrawling on monuments and clashing with police.

The French economy suffered – and has since struggled to regain its momentum.

But Mr Macron has also blamed France’s inability to attract tourists on Brexit, which was voted for more than three years ago in June 2016.

A report published by the French Ministry of Tourism referring to the goal states the department “postpones it to 2022 given the current situation”.

Referring to the chance of now achieving the target, it reads that “the indicators for the first months of 2019 predict a decrease in international tourist attendance in the first half”.

The report continues: “Indicators for the first months of 2019 show a decrease in international tourist traffic for the first half of the year.”

The document continues to explain “national social movements that affected the country at the beginning of the year and the medium and long-term bookings, as well as the effects of the decline in the pound, the United Kingdom being our first tourist market”.

The target was set in 2014 by Laurent Fabius, then foreign minister.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has had his hand forced over Brexit after winning a vote on his deal last night, but losing the second on his plan to push it through in three days.

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He is now having to ask the EU for a Brexit extension, which Mr Macron has voiced anger at.

According to BuzzFeed News, leaders in Europe are angry at Donald Tusk’s recommendation that the Brexit deadline be extended until January 31.

Among them is Mr Macron who was “not happy” with the extension recommendation.

The renewed frustration comes following the news that MPs had voted to reject Boris Johnson’s timetable to push legislation through Parliament in time to take the UK out of the EU by October 31.

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This prompted Mr Tusk to assure he would recommend EU leaders backed an extension to the October 31 deadline.

However, a Downing Street source said that should an extension be granted, Mr Johnson would seek an election.

On Saturday, Mr Johnson complied with a law that required him to send a letter to the EU requesting a three month extension to Brexit as MPs had voted down his deal.

Though the Prime Minister did not sign the letter, claiming it was Parliament who had requested an extension, not the Government.

Despite the growing likelihood that the UK will not leave the EU by the end of the month, Mr Johnson assured EU leaders that he intended to keep to his strict Halloween departure date.

Members of his party were less enthusiastic, with Commons leader, Jacob Rees-Mogg, admitting to MPs it was “very hard” to see how the necessary laws would be passed in time for the October deadline.

The European Commission was quick to respond to the news that MPs had voted down the timetable.

A Commission spokesman said: “The Commission takes note of tonight’s result and expects the UK government to inform us about the next steps.”

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.

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