Britain’s foreign minister will seek to ease tensions with France caused by Brexit with a speech that will pay tribute to the “bonds of friendship and commerce” between the countries, his office said. France has taken a hard line in the Brexit negotiations, with President Emmanuel Macron insistent that Britain should not be allowed to negotiate advantages for itself as it withdraws from the European Union.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt also raised hackles in Paris last month when he compared the EU to the Soviet Union and suggested its members were trying to punish Britain for leaving. But in the speech at the British embassy in Paris, Hunt will tell the audience -- in French -- that the neighbours will “remain tied by bonds of friendship and commerce for decades to come.”
Three days ahead of the 100th anniversary of World War I, when Britain and France allied against Germany, he is set to emphasise the historic Franco-British partnership. “It was a war in which our destinies as nations were yoked together -– in which we fought and bled side by side for over four years –- and in which, in the end, we prevailed,” according to a transcript.
“It is a relationship of competition and cooperation, similarity and difference,” he will add. Britain is due to leave the 28-nation bloc on March 29 next year, but details of its withdrawal treaty have yet to be agreed. Hopes that a deal could finally be sealed at a Nov. summit meeting have faded in recent days.