In a letter published on social media, French President Emmanuel Macron has endorsed an initiative led by Tory MP George Freeman to explore Britain's place in the world post-Brexit.
Citing a tight schedule, Macron denied Freeman's invitation to a political rally called The Big Tent Ideas Festival, set to take place in Cambridge in September. However, he welcomed the initiative and said that the forum "will make a significant contribution to the consideration of the big issues we jointly face."
We are honoured that President Macron has replied to our invitation to speak at the @BigTentIdeas #BigTentIdeasFest with such a strong welcome for our attempt at positive CrossParty / NonParty Debate on the big challenges of our times: pic.twitter.com/7UWTbqESU7— BIG TENT IDEAS FESTIVAL (@BigTentIdeas) 19 августа 2018 г.
George Freeman, who chairs the Conservative Policy Forum, claims, as quoted by The Daily Mail, that a no-deal Brexit would see the UK face an economic meltdown similar to 1992's Black Wednesday, when John Major's Tory government withdrew from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.
He supports a Brexit with a "Norway-style" relationship with the European Union so the UK would pay to stay within the single market via membership in the European Economic Area. On his official Twitter account, Freeman has also called a no-deal Brexit a "disaster" and said he is committed to a "more inspiring Conservative Brexit."
Let’s be clear. NoDeal would be a disaster. The people who led us into Brexit now have to make it work. If “NoDeal is better than a BadDeal” I suspect many people will start to think “NoBrexit is better than a BadBrexit”. @BBCr4today @JPonpolitics https://t.co/bFpklBBtq2— George Freeman MP (@GeorgeFreemanMP) 18 мая 2018 г.© REUTERS / Peter Nicholls
Earlier this month, UK Prime Minister Theresa May flew to France to have talks with Macron in a bid to persuade him to soften EU resistance to her Brexit proposal, which seeks to establish a UK-EU free trade area with a "common rulebook" for goods and agricultural products post-Brexit, as well as to work out a new customs agreement that would remove the need for customs checks and controls.
Britain wants to negotiate an agreement that would enable the country to arrange its own trade deals with other countries. Moreover, London aspires to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and has rejected the EU's proposal to keep Northern Ireland within the single market, citing constitutional integrity concerns. If the negotiations don't work out, the UK faces a no deal outcome next March, which would force the country trade with the EU on bare WTO terms, damaging its GDP and possibly causing shortages in food and medicine.