France Stands Up Post-Brexit
Britain's exit from the European Union is on the verge of becoming reality. No one is more aware of this than the British themselves as they witness former allies and friends vie for a post-Brexit position within the shifting politics of a fragmented European Union. Britain's attempts at a "soft" exit have met with resistance. Currently this resistance seems to be coming most directly from the French. Recent Brexit discussions have left Jeremy Browne, the City of London's representative in the talks, with the impression that the French aim to diminish London's global standing.
The reasons behind Browne's accusation include poor negotiations with the French Central Bank, a "rejection of the partnership model" with London, and an overall "giddy and assertive" tone from the French ever since Macron won the election.
Though other cities, including Dublin and Brussels, are attempting to bring businesses and corporations from London to their own cities, Browne asserts that French representatives are more aggressive than representatives from other cities and countries.
There is a distinct line between leveraging for control in a shifting alliance and undermining a former trading partner. Browne believes that France has crossed that line. In a memorandum leaked to the British press Browne writes that French bankers aim to "actively disrupt" London's financial district and that French companies are offering large sums of money to businesses that relocate. Wooing businesses to France might improve France's power but disrupting London's finances does little to assist Paris. The lack of any benefits France could potentially receive has led Browne to conclude that France is set to bring down London's international prowess even if France has nothing to gain directly from a collapse.
Browne's memorandum makes it clear that he found the French honest about their intentions. According to Browne, other countries in attendance found France to be aggressive yet none intervened. Since the city of London generates £66 billion in tax receipts each year it is responsible for funding half of the National Health Service. More than an attack on London, economic disruption can harm the rest of Britain.
Historically speaking animosity between France and England is hardly new. However the current climate has appeared to unleash old animosities in new ways. How these animosities will play out across the European Union remains to be seen.
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