'THE historic rivalry between France and the United Kingdom is the motivation behind Emmanuel Macron’s tough Brexit stance, according to a former foreign minister Hubert Vedrine.
Mr Macron, the French president, was an influential agitator in last week’s seven-hour negotiation over Theresa May’s request to delay Brexit until June 30. He drove a hard bargain as he urged his EU colleagues to push Britain out of the bloc in early May, with or without a deal in place. Former politicians and experts have suggested Paris’ tough rhetoric on Brexit is the result of a six-century rivalry between France and Britain.
Mr Vedrine, who served as French foreign minister between 1997-2002, said: “It’s folkloric for so many French, it’s the old hereditary enemy that’s still not been fully digested. So much of our history is the opposition against England.”
Anglo-French conflicts have embedded themselves in history as one of the great inter-country rivalries.
The 23-year-long Waterloo Campaign, which ended with Napoleon’s final defeat in 1815, is perhaps the most famous of the Anglo-French battles.
Mr Vedrine added: “For the French technocratic elite, there’s this idea that the mean English prevented us from building the United States of Europe. It’s a totally erroneous view.”
Brussels sources have often conceded that France was the toughest on Britain through the Brexit negotiations.
One diplomat revealed that French ambassador to the bloc, Philippe Léglise-Costa, complained to his EU colleagues for spreading news of Paris’ harsh outlook.
Robert Tombs, a professor of French history at Cambridge University, said the historic rivalry has become deeply rooted in France’s current vision for the Brussels project.
Professor Tombs said: “Get Britain out and keep them in a subordinate position on the periphery, which is essentially what the agreement Barnier negotiated with Theresa May would do, and it will be easier to build the kind of Europe France wants.'
Read more: Macron's Brexit anger REVEALED: 'English stopped us from building United States of Europe'
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