PUBLISHED: 09:19, Wed, Feb 12, 2020 | UPDATED: 09:54, Wed, Feb 12, 2020
Last week, the EU and the UK opened hostilities in Brexit’s next bruising chapter, laying down tough red lines for a post-divorce future following the UK’s withdrawal from the bloc. Boris Johnson said he wants Britain to have a Canada-style free trade agreement with Brussels once the Brexit transition period finishes at the end of the year. However, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, claimed that the UK must sign up to “specific and effective” guarantees to ensure fair competition and prevent it from undercutting EU rules and regulations.
The disagreement is a further sign that this second phase of Brexit is set to be the biggest showdown yet in the terms of the UK-EU relationship, and according to unearthed reports, French President Emmanuel Macron might be behind Mr Barnier’s tough position.
Lord David Owen told Express.co.uk that Mr Macron has likely told Mr Barnier he does not want a long deal and he is not prepared to live with a Canada settlement.
Moreover, according to a recent Spectator report written by John Keiger – a former professor at the University of Cambridge – Brexit is the best opportunity in a century for France to achieve its “age-old ambition” of being the continent's banker once again and dethrone London.
Mr Barnier, under the French President's instructions, is therefore likely to use the trade talks to push for this agenda.
The report reads: “According to the widely respected Z/Yen ‘Global Financial Centres Index’, New York is the most competitive financial centre in the world, followed by London in second place.
Macron and Barnier's 'shameless plot to dethrone London' in EU talks exposed (Image: GETTY)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Image: GETTY)
“But, on current trends, Paris and China’s financial centres are on track to overtake London by 2021.
“The post-Brexit negotiations are Paris’s opportunity to dethrone London.
“It has already snapped up the European Banking Authority from London and Macron manoeuvred France’s former finance minister Christine Lagarde into her seat at the head of the ECB.”
Furthermore, Mr Keiger wrote, Bruno Le Maire, France’s powerful finance minister, confirmed in January that Paris was poised to overtake London as Europe’s prime financial centre and that France could gain from the Brexit negotiations “if we are firm”.
The Professor noted: “It doesn’t matter to the French that the Z/Yen survey assesses soft financial environment factors rather than hard trading volumes, or that a simultaneously published Bank of International Settlements survey suggested London is increasing its supremacy over New York in currency and derivatives, to nearly half of the global market share – while Paris remains insignificant.
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