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France warns UK it will not be blackmailed into signing ‘bad’ post-Brexit trade deal

France warns UK it will not be blackmailed into signing ‘bad’ post-Brexit trade deal
France will not rush to accept a trade agreement between the UK and EU at the cost of its economic future, French Secretary of State for European Affairs Amelie de Montchalin has warned.

Speaking to France 2 TV, the minister said she will have a “clear Brexit message” when she heads to Brussels for talks.

“Just because [British Prime Minister] Boris Johnson wants an agreement at all costs on 12/31 does not mean that we will sign a bad agreement for the French under the pressure of blackmail or timing,” she wrote on Monday, posting the video of her interview on Twitter. She added that Paris is not going to “sacrifice” French businesses, fishermen, and farmers to secure a quick deal that should be signed before the deadline expires at the end of the year.

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Earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron hinted that the EU is prepared to take a hard line in the trade talks, while fishing rights remain a sticking point in the negotiations. Macron said he doubts that the two sides will manage to hammer out an agreement by December 31, as the British are “hard” to deal with and he anticipates the talks to be “tense.”

It was the British prime minister who set the tight deadline as he brushed aside all the warnings and ruled out extending the transition period beyond the end of the year. Johnson earlier stressed that he wants a Canada-style free trade deal, but refused to sign up to regulatory alignment, which would oblige Britain to follow the EU on various standards.

“In the very unlikely event that we do not succeed, then our trade will have to be based on our existing Withdrawal Agreement with the EU,” Johnson said earlier this month.

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