French President Emmanuel Macron tonight launched a furious attack on Brexit – saying ‘it can’t be delivered’ and had ‘torn society apart’.
Rubbishing the June 2016 referendum in which a majority of the British voted to exit the EU, the head of state said: ‘Be aware of people who sell you dreams, that tell you all your anger can be solved by a referendum. I’m scared of people who manipulate you with miracle ideas.’
Mr Macron was speaking on Thursday evening to an audience in Bourg-de-Peage, south of Lyon, in a ‘people’s debate’.
Some were so-called Yellow Vest anti-government campaigners who themselves want France to leave the EU.
Rubbishing the June 2016 referendum in which a majority of the British voted to exit the EU, the head of state said: ‘Be aware of people who sell you dreams, that tell you all your anger can be solved by a referendum. I’m scared of people who manipulate you with miracle ideas’
But Mr Macron told them: ‘Take the British. They voted for Brexit. There were people who, in good faith, were sometimes as angry as you are, and they said that the source of all their ills was Europe. It’s rubbish!’
Attacking Brexit poster campaigns that in 2016 promised more money for the NHS and other good causes, Mr Macron said: ‘There were lots of buses passing by reading that you were going to save something like 36 billion pounds if you get out of Europe.
‘And it will be done in 15 days, and then people voted. There were people who voted for Brexit, who did it in good faith, they were angry, and they thought their situation was impossible, because the system was unjust.
In a clear reference to former Conservative politicians including Prime Minister David Cameron, who resigned after losing the Brexit referendum, Mr Macron whistled as he mocked their departures.
‘The result is, it’s in fact been going on for two years now and those who promised a Brexit literally left within two weeks. They didn’t even want to govern!
Mr Macron added: ‘Take the British. They voted for Brexit. There were people who, in good faith, were sometimes as angry as you are, and they said that the source of all their ills was Europe. It’s rubbish!’
‘People are starting to realise that all the figures they were given are entirely false, and what they were told could be done overnight in fact can’t be delivered.
‘And in the end it’s going to cost them. In this context do you think that the referendum was a good thing?
‘No, because it didn’t allow for an informed, transparent and calm debate. It’s torn a society apart, and it’s left it open to disinformation coming from abroad, or terrible manipulation.’
It follows Mr Macron saying that Britain leaving the EU without a deal would be a disaster for everyone, and especially the British.
Instead, he believes the UK will now ask for more time to negotiate a new trade deal.
Speaking more widely about the issue of referendums, Mr Macron said they were a poor form of democracy, that could be manipulated by fake news, and that parliamentary government should be respected at all times.
After praising the head of the European Council Donald Tusk and the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, Mr Macron said he expected Britain to eventually ask for more time to renegotiate a deal.
At present, Britain is due to leave the EU at the end of March, but Mr Macron believes the British government will wait until European Parliament elections be held on May 23 to 26.
A total of 751 MEPs currently represent some 500 million people from 28 member states, but in February 2018 the European Parliament voted to decrease the number of MEPS to 705, in line with the UK leaving.
Mr Macron, who was elected in President of France in May 2017, originally displayed a hard line against Brexit, at one stage before his win calling it ‘a crime’.
But until tonight he had toned down his attacks on the British leave vote while in office, saying he was leaving negotiations to senior EU representatives.