Brexit news: Emmanuel Macron ‘changes tune and urges EU to cut a close deal with UK’

Emmanuel Macron is urging the European Union to agree to a close relationship with the UK after Brexit, according to reports.

The French president aims to use an EU summit next month in Salzburg, Austria, to push for a new “alliance” between the bloc and Britain, The Times reports.

A new Continental structure would see “concentric circles” with the EU and Euro at its core and the UK in a second ring, according to the newspaper.

Mr Macron has previously taken a hard line stance on Brexit. Just this week he said that France would not want a “special relationship” with London if it came at the cost of “unravelling” the EU.

The latest claims emerged after the bloc’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier struck an optimistic tone, stating: “We are prepared to offer Britain a partnership such as there never has been with any other third country.”

The comments helped trigger a sharp rise for sterling on the money markets.

Mr Macron fears a no-deal Brexit will damage Europe, according to The Times. The newspaper quoted a diplomatic source saying: “He sees a no-deal scenario as something that would break links and poison relations at a time when Europe needs to be united beyond the EU.”

As the deadline to Brexit approaches, London is intensifying its withdrawal agenda with Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt at an EU meeting in Austria on Thursday, and Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab due to hold talks in Brussels on Friday with Mr Barnier.

Mr Raab moved to present an upbeat message to a House of Lords committee this week stating that he was “confident that a deal is within our sights”.

However, the Brexit Secretary indicated negotiations could go beyond the expected October deadline, stating: “I think it is important as we enter the final phase of the negotiations in the lead up to the October council and the possibility that it may creep beyond that, we want to see some renewed energy.

“We’re bringing the ambition and the substance of our white paper on the future relationship and also I think some pragmatism to try and go the extra mile to get the deal that I think is in both sides’ interests. We need that to be matched obviously, it’s a negotiation.”


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