France threatens UK with acrimonious trade deal battle

Brexit | | MIC Customs Solutions |

France has warned it will pull no punches in trade deal talks with Britain.

France has warned the UK that negotiations for a new trade deal with the European Union could be far from friendly, despite Downing Street's hopes for a seamless split.

Speaking at a security forum in Munich, French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian made what some have considered inflammatory remarks on the differences between the two sides and how it may be difficult to achieve an agreement by the end of the Brexit transition period.

"I think on trade issues and the mechanism for future relations, which we are going to start on, we are going to rip each other apart," he commented.

Mr Le Drian added that he has a number of files documenting France's disagreement with the UK on contentious issues - including details on fishing rights in UK waters - and intends to protect the country's best interests.

France has long been determined to encourage EU integration and may therefore be expected to take a particularly tough stance on factors like fishing and financial services.

However, it may have come as a surprise to some analysts just how bitter a battle the country might be willing to engage in.

A spokesperson for Downing Street said: "We are not asking for anything special, bespoke or unique, but are looking for a deal like those the EU has struck previously with other friendly countries like Canada. We want a relationship based on friendly cooperation between sovereign equals, one centred on free trade and inspired by our shared history and values."

It may be, though, that the UK is also required to toughen its stance going forward, as the Telegraph recently reported Boris Johnson's government has criticised some of the demands within a draft negotiating mandate from the European Commission as "ridiculous".

Less than a month after Britain's official exit from the EU and barely into the transition period, it already seems as though the peaceable divorce that had been hoped for is leaning towards bitterness on both sides.