David Cameron says Brexit referendum ‘thought through’
And Sylvie Bermann has poured cold water on the idea of Britain rejoining the EU – admitting: “We have to accept things the way they are.” Ms Bermann, who served as France’s UK representative from 2014 to 2017, hit the headlines this week after she described the Prime Minister as a “liar”.
However, she indicated that the then-Mayor of London had made it clear he did not take her opinion particularly seriously.
Shortly after the UK voted to quit the bloc almost five years, Ms Bermann invited Mr Johnson, who had campaigned for Vote Leave, to her official London residence for a celebration to mark Bastille Day.
Mr Johnson stood up to make a speech – but things took an awkward turn when several British guests began booing him.
Boris Johnson simply laughed at Sylvie Bermann’s Brexit warning, she admitted
Boris Johnson’s speech in 2016 had triggered boos, Ms Bermann said
I told him things were actually going to get very difficult for the UK and he needed to understand that. He just laughed
Ms Bermann told the New European: “I was embarrassed as he was my guest and so I made a point of accompanying him to his car when he left shortly afterwards.
“He was saying they were only a few Remainers and I wasn’t to worry as everything was going to be alright.
“I told him things were actually going to get very difficult for the UK and he needed to understand that. He just laughed.”
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Sylvie Bermann was French ambassador to the UK from 2014 to 2017
Ms Bermann has since written a book entitled Goodbye Britannia in which she laments the UK’s decision to leave the EU.
During the course of the interview, the 67-year-old, who describes Mr Johnson as an “inveterate liar”, made her contempt for Brexit plain, describing it as a “navel-gazing and masochistic comedy”.
Making it clear she blamed Mr Johnson in large measure, she suggested he would use the forthcoming G7 summit and the COP 26 climate change conference, both of which are being hosted by the UK, to stress the UK’s influence on he world stage.
However, she added: “After that, I am not so sure. Supporters of Brexit had pinned their hopes on a new relationship with America, but president Biden’s over-riding concern is his relationship with China.”
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Boris Johnson during the 2019 general election campaign
David Cameron had been confident of victory, said Ms Bermann
Ms Berman crowed: “The EU, as the first trade block, will be important in helping to develop that.
“It seems to me the big continents will shape the new world order and how the UK will make its presence felt as an independent group of countries is not at all clear.”
When the referendum was called, then-Prime Minister and Remainer David Cameron assured Ms Bermann he would win comfortably – but she was uneasy.
Referring to a vote the result of which came, like Brexit, as a blow to Brussels, she said: “I was never a fan of referendums as they’re always unpredictable.
“We’d had one in France in 2005 about whether the country should ratify the proposed constitution of the EU and it was messy.
“Cameron was, however, confident. We asked if we could help in any way and he was adamant he could handle it on his own.”
In the event, things turned out very differently – and Ms Bermann has little confidence that the UK will return to the fold.
She said: “The only party in England that went into the last election with that as a policy were the Lib Dems and it didn’t work out well for them.
Sir Keir Starmer was now reluctant to use the word Brexit, said Ms Bermann
“Sir Keir Starmer is reluctant to even use the word ‘Brexit’ because he is aware of how many of his own supporters back the policy, so it’s difficult.
“A month after the UK left, there were a lot of people in Europe who were saying the door was still open if they wanted to return, but no one is saying that now.
“It became too acrimonious. Some wonder if the UK did vote to return, would they stay?
“It makes me very sad as I love the UK and it has played such an important part in shaping the EU and making it what it is today, but I suppose we have to accept things as they are.”