France urges Brexit clarity after May resignation

President Emmanuel Macron of France has urged “swift clarification” on Brexit after the resignation of UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

He stressed the need to “maintain the smooth functioning of the EU” as the European Union (EU) ruled out any change to Brexit policy.

Mrs May is stepping down after failing to get her Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament three times.

The French leader also joined EU leaders in paying tribute to Mrs May’s “courage”.

The Withdrawal Agreement was reached with the EU in November after arduous negotiations.

The European Commission made clear it would work with Theresa May’s successor but that there would not be any changes to the Withdrawal Agreement.

“[EU Commission] President [Jean-Claude] Juncker followed Prime Minister May’s announcement this morning without personal joy,” said Commission spokesperson Mina Andreeva.

“The president very much liked and appreciated working with Prime Minister May and, as he has said before, Theresa May is a woman of courage for whom he has great respect.

“He will equally respect and establish working relations with any new prime minister, whoever they may be, without stopping his conversations with Prime Minister May. And our position on the Withdrawal Agreement and anything else has been set out. There is no change to that.”

In an interview before Mrs May’s resignation, Mr Juncker asked: “How could anybody else achieve what she couldn’t?”

The UK’s previous prime minister, David Cameron, clashed with Mr Juncker over the EU budget and other issues before arguing – unsuccessfully – to stay in the EU in the 2016 referendum.

Reflecting on that vote, Mr Juncker told the German public broadcaster ARD: “If you tell people for 40 or 45 years ‘we’re in it, but not really in it’, we’re part-time Europeans and we don’t like these full-time Europeans, then you should not be surprised if people follow simple slogans once they’re asked to vote in a referendum.”

He also accepted that the EU had “failed” by not adopting “the position that was necessary… abstention is not a position,” he said.

A statement from the French president’s office said: “The principles of the EU will continue to apply, with the priority on the smooth functioning of the EU, and this requires a rapid clarification.

“At a time of an important choice, votes of rejection that do not offer an alternative project will lead to an impasse.” –BBC

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