Britain will no longer be relevant to China if it goes through with Brexit, a senior French politician has said.
Emmanuel Macron, the former economy minister, has warned that outside of the European Union the UK will not have the protections afforded to a trading bloc and will therefore find it difficult to see off commercial competion from Beijing.
He said the UK alone would be incapable of stopping an influx of cheap imports and cited the recent crisis in the steel industry to demonstrate the difficulties Britain could face from the superpower.
“The UK is definitely not relevant to China. And the big mistake of countries is not to play the European game,” the Times reported Mr Macron as saying.
“During the past two years we were attacked by the Chinese, the Indians and the Russians and especially the Chinese on steel. An unfair attack. Nothing to do with globalisation and trade. They just had their own overcapacity.
“They didn’t want to deal with that and they inundated our markets, killing prices with their steel. Did we protect our industry and our workers? No. You saw that here in Port Talbot.”
Mr Macron, who stepped down last month to contest the French presidency, also warned Brexit could kill the European Union in months.
“I think the UK has a choice: option one, you come back to the people and say Brexit was a mistake. It is impossible to be implemented. We will ask our people to think again about that through a general election or a new referendum. I respect that,” Mr Macron added.
“Second option: you want to implement the exit and try to find something new regarding free movement of labour.
“But if the rest of the EU agrees to allow Britain to limit free movement of people, in strategic and political terms there is a big incentive for all the other member states not to respect the rules of the club.
“And for sure in six months, one year or three years we have killed the European Union. I am not in favour of such a move.”
The comments were made by Mr Macron during a trip to London.
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