Macron’s Achilles’ heel exposed: One key area set to cost France in Brexit talks

On the future trade deal between the UK and the EU, French President Emmanuel Macron is pushing Brussels to adopt a hardline stance. Before the negotiations started last week, the French Government made clear to the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier that he had to push for stronger commitments on regulatory alignments in return for maintaining free trade. Moreover, France is demanding Britain to grant EU countries access to UK fishing waters for 25 years after Brexit in exchange for the FTA with the bloc.

Mr Macron recently said he is willing to put up a fight over the issue.

He said: “If we do not get the same access as today, we will seek compensation.

“I will not let our fishermen be impacted by a British vote they could do nothing about.”

Despite his hardline stance, in an interview with, Lord David Owen explained why the French leader will ultimately cave in to British demands and pinpointed his Achilles’ heel.

The former Foreign Secretary and SDP co-founder said: “Over time, Macron will be tempted to create difficulty in the trade talks.

“And you know what we will do? We will move fewer lorries through Calais.

“It is inevitable.

“Actually, we won’t do anything. Companies will start realising it on their own.”

The Brexiteer noted: “They are not going to queue for ages, they will go off to new ports on the east coast and they will be expanding.

“It won’t be long before the Calais region, which is left, realises that there will be less traffic going through there.

“It is bound to happen. No sensible company will want to queue down the M25. Forget about that.

“There is going to be investment in more east coast ports. And free ports.

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“The extent to which Calais loses out will depend on French attitudes during the talks.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is currently planning to create duty-free ports in the east and north of England.

Goods entering free ports are exempt from import taxes and tariffs and often benefit from simplified regulations, helping bring economic success to locations such as Singapore and Hong Kong.

The UK is currently prevented from establishing such zones as an EU member, but by integrating free ports with local enterprise zones, they would become “super charged”, providing a major boost to regional economies.

Experts estimate the trade zones could create more than 150,000 jobs and generate billions.

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Lord Owen also reassured British fishermen, adding that the Prime Minister will undoubtedly deliver on his promise and give them back full control of their waters.

He said: “Trying to make fishing as part of the FTA – I don’t think that has ever been done before and it is certainly provocative.

“Of course, we will allow many EU countries in UK waters but we will do it like Norway does, as an independent country.

“I don’t think Brussels has understood that we are going to be separate now, but we will be able to overcome that.”

Lord Owen added: “Edward Heath traded in our waters, and that was an absolute scandal.

“Some people point out that fishing is a small part of our overall economy, which is completely true but that doesn’t matter.

“This Government in particular has sworn that it will not do what Ted Heath did, so there is no chance whatsoever we will cave in to Brussels’ demands.”

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