Macron and May stress unity at joint press conference

Macron and May stress unity at joint press conference
By Robert Hackwill
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Border security and military operations were among a vast range of subjects discussed by the pair at their 35th such summit.


The president of France, Emmanuel Macron, and the British Prime Minister Theresa May met for a bilateral Anglo-French summit on Thursday, the 35th between the pair.

With Britain's turn to host the venue was especially significant; Sandhurst, where generations of army officers have been taught. The elite school provides NATO with key elements in its leadership, and Britain and France are by far the biggest military powers in the alliance after America, and UN Security Council members.

For several years the British and French military establishments have been getting closer together with a view to forming a core group for a possible European defence force, and May announced the pair would soon be able to deploy a 10,000 man joint rapid reaction force to anywhere needed.

Whatever the implications of Brexit Britain and France stand together on defence and security, it seems.

Both leaders were keen to stress that leaving the EU for Britain did not mean leaving Europe, and that the bilateral ties with France would only strengthen in the future.

However Macron again warned Britain that the single market was a red line no-one could cross, and that it was unrealistic to expect exactly the same single market conditions for a non-EU member. One issue has caused the pair serious problems for a decade; the arrival of hundreds of migrants in Calais trying to reach Britain. May said that was now being tackled.

"We will reinforce the security infraestructure with extra CCTV, fencing and infrared technology at Calais and other border points. The further investment we have agreed today will make the UK's borders even more secure," she said. Brexit was also never very far away, although Macron insisted it was not a core subject at the summit. However he did have this to say about single market membership.

"I am neither in favor of rewarding nor punishing states leaving the union, but I have a requirement. The single market has to be preserved because it is an asset of the European Union, and it is one of the bases of the EU. So now the choice is on the UK side, it's not on my side. But there can not be favouable access to the single market in which financial services are a part," he insisted.

Both were keen to stress it would be business as usual come what may on a bilateral level; indeed it sounded as if, with a proliferation of exchanges and joint projects, the entente cordiale has rarely been as cordial.

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