France 'would close migrant camps' in the event of a Brexit
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France would move its northern migrant camps to the other side of the English Channel and invite City of London bankers to relocate if the UK exits the European Union, Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron told the Financial Times on Thursday.
The comments come as Prime Minister David Cameron and President François Hollande are due to meet at an Anglo-French summit on Thursday, with Britain's June referendum on whether to remain in the European Union at the top of the agenda.
Macron told the newspaper, which is strongly behind the campaign for Britain to remain in the EU, that a so-called "Brexit" could scupper an agreement between the two countries that allows Britain to conduct border controls on the French side of the border.
"The day this relationship unravels, migrants will no longer be in Calais," Macron told the newspaper.
Cameron warned last month that Brexit could mean the UK would no longer be able to conduct border checks in Calais and that "there would be nothing to stop thousands of people crossing the Channel overnight".
But campaigners in favour of leaving the 28-member bloc accused Cameron of scaremongering.
Ahead of the talks in the northern French city of Amiens, authorities demolished parts of the so-called "Jungle" camp in Calais, where thousands of people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa had been living.
Luring financial firms away from the City
Besides the immigration issue, Macron warned that in the event of a Brexit, Paris would seek to lure financial services companies away from the British capital, along with thousands of French citizens working in the sector who would find themselves without the “passport” rights that allow them to operate across the EU.
Macron also warned that Britain would lose full access to the single market if it left the European Union.
“People deciding to leave the single market will not be able to secure the same terms,” he said. He added that the EU’s “collective energy would be spent on unwinding existing links, not re-creating new ones” if British voters rejected membership.
“The EU as a whole would be weakened as a military, diplomatic and economic powerhouse if the UK left,” he told the Financial Times, adding that a Brexit would “durably hurt the bloc’s unity.”
“The EU has no choice but to become a true military and diplomatic power, something it has been always reluctant to be, mostly by lack of ambition,” he said.