His warning is unequivocal. If Britain were to leave the European Union, migrants would move to Britain and bankers would move to France.
In an interview with the Financial Times, France’s Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said a Brexit could ruin the “Le Touquet” agreement, which allows Britain to have border controls in France, meaning migrants would only be controlled once on British soil.
“The day this relationship unravels, migrants will no longer be in Calais and the financial passport would work less well,” Macron told the FT.
When David Cameron warned last month that a Brexit would lead to the Calais Jungle camp being relocated to Britain, he was widely accused of trying to scare the British public into voting for Britain to remain in the EU. However Macron’s comments support Cameron’s claims that if Britain were to leave, France would re-consider the agreement.
The squalid refugee camp where thousands of migrants live in Calais has been at the centre of rising political tensions and escalating violence.
French authorities have now started to demolish the camp, but are constantly criticised for their treatment of refugees. This seems to indicate that the French government would probably not pass up an opportunity to let Britain deal with the problem itself.
Macron also said that France would roll out the “red carpet” for people in the financial industry who would consider leaving London in case of a Brexit, four years after Cameron invited French companies to move to Britain to escape high taxes.
Macron, a former investment banker, said that financial institutions in Britain would lose the passport rights which allow them to operate across Europe and that the country would lose its full access to the single market.
Macron acknowledged in the interview the EU was not perfect, saying that it was failing to protect European industries, giving steel-making as a prime example.
“We ask our companies to restructure, we ask employees to work more for less money because there is overproduction but then we’re unable to defend them from cheaper Chinese imports,” he said. “We are insane.”
Saying the EU would be weakened militarily, diplomatically, and economically if the UK left, Macron added that with or without Britain the EU must become a “true military and diplomatic power.”
Citing the 2008 financial crisis and the continent’s failure to deal with refugees as major factors that have contributed to an unravelling of solidarity between EU countries, he insisted that the only way forward was a stronger European Union.
He said: “It’s only at a European level that we can manage the sovereign debt risk or the banking risk.”
Macron added that if Britain chose to leave the EU, the bloc’s energy would be spent “on unwinding existing links, not re-creating new ones.”