Emmanuel Macron portrait smashed by protestors in Poitiers
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The French President, 43, is currently focused on reopening France’s economy as the country emerges from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of his government’s raft of recovery measures, the French Parliament approved a controversial “health pass”, allowing entry to bars, restaurants and other places for vaccinated or Covid-negative people. The measure is part of a new law, which also mandates vaccinations for all health workers by September 15, with the threat of them being sacked if they don’t get the jab.
Both actions have proved controversial, and thousands of people have taken to French streets in protest at the plans in recent weeks.
Mr Macron has also been fighting another front – on the issue of Brexit, and has accused Britain of not upholding its side of the bargain after it withdrew from the EU last year.
However, recently resurfaced comments show how Mr Macron has consistently made voicing his opinion about Britain’s place in the world one of his top priorities – even before he became President.
In a 2016 interview with French daily newspaper, Le Monde, Mr Macron, then-France’s economy minister, said the UK would become like Guernsey once it left the EU.
The self-governing British Crown dependency is one of the Channel Islands in the English Channel off France and has never been part of the EU.
Speaking ahead of the referendum on EU membership, Mr Macron said: “Leaving the EU would mean the ‘Guernseyfication’ of the UK, which would then be a little country on the world scale.
“It would isolate itself and become a trading post and arbitration place at Europe’s border.”
He said that if given the choice he would vote to remain in the EU, explaining that he thought it was in the UK’s interests to stay part of the European trading bloc.
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Mr Macron also called on the European Council, the EU’s political arm, to issue an ultimatum to Britain about what it planned to do next and said then-French President Francois Hollande would make France’s position clear.
He added: “If the UK wants a treaty of commercial access to the European market, the British will have to contribute to the European budget like the Norwegians or the Swiss.
“If London doesn’t want that, then the exit will have to be total.”
In recent months Mr Macron, who became French President in 2017, has called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to stand by the Brexit divorce deal he signed with the EU.
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Relations between the two leaders have soured following a string of inflammatory remarks by Mr Macron about the UK’s approach to Brexit.
The President has accused the UK of not adhering to the controversial Northern Ireland protocol, designed to govern trade in the country after Brexit.
Northern Irish unionists despise the protocol, under which stringent border checks on a range of British imports are enforced.
The arrangement, which Brussels and Mr Macron insist must be followed to the letter, has resulted in shortages of some products to Northern Irish retailers.
The French President has said that despite the trade issues, the protocol cannot be renegotiated.
He told a press conference in June: “I think this is not serious – to want to have another look at something in July that was finalised in December after years of discussions and work.”
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