Hollande rejects Le Pen’s calls for Frexit referendum
President Francois Hollande has firmly rejected calls for a referendum on leaving the EU, said French right-wing leader Marine Le Pen. Disappointed with the talks and disregard for public opinion, she was left with the “feeling of coming for nothing.”
“We have called for the implementation of a referendum to ask the French if they wish to remain in the European Union,” Le Pen said according to French media. “He responded ‘no’.”
The National Front leader, who has been gaining popularity in opinion polls and hoping to replace the president in next year’s elections, lashed out at Hollande, saying: “This is just outrageous… as if the people [of France] are a fifth wheel.”
Le Pen said she regretted meeting with Hollande and was sorry to hear he “will take no notice of all the signals” the French and Europeans in general have been showing for several years.
Commenting on the consequences of Brexit, Le Pen said the EU would try to make the whole process of the UK’s exit as “painful as possible,” so that other countries would not want to follow suit. Le Pen maintained it would only lead to an “even greater gap between the EU nations.”
On Saturday, President Hollande held a series of meetings with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and a number of party leaders, including his own Socialist Party, former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative opposition party and the right-wing National Front.
“Of course we discussed the British vote despite the fact that it has no effect on the place of the United Kingdom in the United Nations system. The UK is a permanent member of the Security Council,” Hollande said.
Hollande acknowledged he “deeply regretted” the referendum result and called on the EU to respect all treaties when organizing Britain’s departure from the bloc.
“I deeply regret the British vote. I respect it because that is democracy, but at the same time we have to draw all the conclusions and [consider] all the consequences.”
“We must now organize this separation and we must do it in good order, with the rules provided by the treaties, which must be implemented,” the president added.
He stressed France will seek to “maintain relations with the UK” including discussions on the migrant and refugee crisis.
The comment echoed the UN Secretary General’s, who said the UN would continue working with both the UK and European Union, which he described as “two important partners.”
After meeting Hollande, Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy said: “Europe is now facing a crisis of a great magnitude.” He called on the international community to turn the current EU “historic crisis” into an “opportunity for a new start.”
France is far from being the only one affected by Brexit contagion. In Finland over 10,000 people have already signed a freshly launched petition to hold a ‘Fixit’ referendum. Dutch anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders said the Netherlands had a right for a ‘Nexit’, while across the Atlantic the US state of Texas said it would push for a ‘Texit’.
Following the referendum, the UK has been deeply “fractured.” The Scottish government agreed to introduce legislation for a second independence vote to protect its position in the EU. Northern Ireland also expressed a strong desire to remain in the bloc. Exasperated by the outcome of the vote, many Londoners say they would prefer to secede from the UK and stay with the EU.
Over 2.5 million UK citizens signed a petition urging the government to conduct a second referendum, to give people a chance to reconsider their decision to exit the EU.