Brexit deal is 'best possible' - French EU minister

Europe Minister Nathalie Loiseau

The Brexit deal agreed on Sunday between the UK and EU is “a good deal but bad news,” France’s Europe Minister has said.

Nathalie Loiseau, speaking to France Info radio, said yesterday: “There can’t be any better deal, it’s that or no deal. Michel Barnier has worked on it for over a year and all the hypotheses have been gone over in every possible way.”

She said Brexit is bad news for Britain and for the EU.

Mrs Loiseau added: “We’ll always miss them and they will miss us one day. It’s just the end of the beginning.”

“We’ll have to build a future relationship, as close as possible, because it’s a great ally, a great country, but it will be less good than when they were a member state.”

The comments came after the ratification of the draft Brexit withdrawal deal by the EU leaders on Sunday and the announcement that the UK parliament will vote on it on December 11.

Some campaigners for the rights of Britons in the EU have said that it is better to have the deal than no deal, however many remain focused on hopes of a People’s Vote including an option to remain. A key sticking point is the absence of any protection in the deal of the continuing right to free movement to live and work across the whole EU.

Asked if Europe could be stronger without the British Mrs Loiseau repeated that the UK leaving was bad news, but said that since the UK had been preparing to leave the others had advanced much faster than before in the last year on defence co-operation, perhaps as a result of this. “That said, they wish to work with us on this,” she said.

Mrs Loiseau refused to comment on whether or not UK prime Minister Theresa May could obtain a majority of MPs in favour of the deal, saying she had “a lot of talent, commitment and resilience”, however she said: “There is a risk, if there is no majority, that there will be a no-deal and we are preparing for that”.

Although protecting rights of British people in France is mentioned in Mrs Loiseau’s draft no-deal law, she told France Info: “I’ve got a law that’s going through parliament to take measures in the case of no-deal, to protect our citizens and our businesses”.

As for another referendum, she said she had no lesson or advice to offer the British, but “nothing forbids it”.

She added: “It’s not us who have thrown the British out; the door remains open.”

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