Macron Says Brexit Must Hurt, Only Liars Said It Would Be Easy

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Emmanuel Macron explained France’s hard line Brexit stance, saying the U.K.’s departure from the European Union must come at a cost or it would threaten the bloc’s integrity.

Speaking to reporters after a summit in Salzburg, Austria, the French president said that the EU would be at risk if it failed to show the consequences of leaving and branded U.K. hard-liners who insisted the process would be easy as "liars."

France consistently takes the toughest stance in Brexit discussions, EU diplomats say. It opposes nearly every European idea aimed at finding a compromise and insists that Britain must be seen to lose from Brexit, according to one official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"Brexit shows us one thing," Macron said. "It’s not that easy to exit the European Union, it’s not without cost, it’s not without consequences.’’

The French president shot down another potential compromise in Salzburg. Ahead of the talks, Merkel was ready to fudge some of the trickiest details of the post-Brexit plan to make it easy for British Prime Minister Theresa May to win support back home. Postponing the difficult decisions until after the split has come to be known as a blind Brexit.

"There will be no blind deal,” Macron said. “I am here to protect the interests of my citizens and also this common project."

Orban, Le Pen

Macron, the self-appointed leader of the campaign against populism, extended his warning to political rivals like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and French nationalist Marine Le Pen. They’ve been touting similar national solutions to the challenges facing Europe and defending Brexit. Orban told reporters at the summit he wanted a “fair deal” for the U.K. while Le Pen praised Brexit this month for being part of the global move to “restore nations.”

"Brexit is the choice of the British people, a choice pushed by some who predicted easy solutions," he said. "It demonstrates that those who say it’s easy to do without Europe, that it will all go well, that it will help make big profits, they are liars.”

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