Lord Peter Ricketts, who served as the UK’s ambassador to France, said on Thursday that UK Prime Minister Theresa May should not expect French President Emmanuel to “soften” his stance on Brexit negotiations, describing him as a “passionate pro-European.”
“I would have said let’s not go out and brief everyone that Theresa May is going to France to try and get Macron to soften the French position. I don’t see why there is any chance of that,” Lord Ricketts told the Today Program.
“First of all he doesn’t believe in softening it, he is a passionate pro-European. Secondly he’s the last person to want to break ranks from what has been quite an impressively disciplined EU side.”
The former ambassador also called on ministers to avoid making threats of a hard Brexit, insisting that Brussels knows these threats are bluffs as the UK economy would be hit very hard by such a withdrawal from the EU.
Commenting on the upcoming meeting, Dr. Johannes Huebner, a deputy and foreign affairs speaker for the Freedom Party of Austria from 2008-2017, said that the fears of the 'no deal' Brexit have been exaggerated.
"This is mostly propaganda. As some sort of free trade regulation is probable and Britain is well connected to the world, — and is preparing free trade agreements worldwide, — EU products could be easily substituted. Price hikes will —if they occur at all —be only temporary," he said to Sputnik
Economists have warned that this trading arrangement would adversely impact the UK economy, in the form of price inflation and disruptions to supply chains.
Lord Ricketts’ warning to the British government was made ahead of a meeting between PM May and the French president, during which Brexit is expected to be discussed.
However, an Elysee Palace official has insisted that the meeting won’t be a negotiation or in any way a substitute for the official talks with EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier, which are ongoing, with just eight months left until Brexit.