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Macron, Johnson agree to intensify Brexit negotiations

June 18, 2020

Macron used his first overseas visit since the pandemic to travel to the UK and mark the 80th anniversary of General de Gaulle's appeal to the resistance. He spoke with Johnson and agreed to expedite post-Brexit talks.

Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron look at a cock, which General Charles De Gaulle gave to Lady Churchill
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/J. Tallis

French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed on Thursday to expedite Brexit negotiations between the UK and the European Union.

Johnson told Macron that there was no sense in extending post-Brexit trade deal talks into the autumn, his office said after the pair met at Downing Street.

"The Prime Minister welcomed the agreement to intensify talks in July and underlined that the UK does not believe it makes sense for there to be prolonged negotiations into the autumn," Johnson's statement said.

Macron told Johnson that he still supported reaching a deal on Brexit, Reuters reported, citing an Elysee source.

"France reminded its commitment to a deal and its support of [EU negotiator] Michel Barnier", the source said.

Negotiations on the future trade relationship between the EU and the UK have yielded rather little, so far, with both sides accusing the other of dragging their feet and having unreasonable expectations. Nonetheless, they have ruled out extending the transition period.

Before the meeting, the pair were reportedly planning to discuss the possibility of lifting of the mutually imposed 14-day quarantine obligation for travelers. 

Anniversary of the Appel

The French president was visiting the UK to mark the 80th anniversary of General Charles de Gaulle's 1940 appeal to the the French people to fight against the Nazi occupation of France during World War II.

He marked the occasion alongside the British heir to the throne, Prince Charles and his wife, Duchess Camilla, at Clarence House.

Macron said the first weapon that the British gave the resistance movement was a BBC microphone, when London handed de Gaulle a platform on the public broadcaster. He called on resistance fighters to continue their struggle alongside the Allies after Nazi Germany overran France early in the war.

"I, General de Gaulle, currently in London, call upon the officers and the French soldiers who are located in British territory or who might end up here, with their weapons or without their weapons ... to get in touch with me," De Gaulle said at the time. "Whatever happens, the flame of the French resistance must not be extinguished and will not be extinguished."

The speech is widely seen as the birth of the resistance movement.

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and French President Emmanuel Macron inspect the Grenadier Guards at Clarence House
Prince Charles spoke to Macron in French to accept the Legion of Honor on behalf of LondonImage: Getty Images/J. Brady

"Your nation spearheaded the liberation of the world. It erected, against Nazi barbarism, the most beautiful of the ramparts: that of unity and fraternity," Macron told Prince Charles. "The United Kingdom gave Free France its first weapon: the microphone of the BBC.''

Macron awarded the British capital the Order of the Legion of Honor for accommodating de Gaulle and his comrades-in-arms.

Charles responded in French:  "I accept in the name of the city of London and United Kingdom and all those who fought for freedom at France's side."

"Your presence today is a strong testimony to the ties that bind our countries, our people, our joint determination."

It was Macron's first overseas visit since the outbreak of the pandemic in France.

aw/msh (AFP, Reuters, dpa)