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Brexit is a product of 'lies and false promises', Emmanuel Macron says
1 January 2021, 16:30
Emmanuel Macron has said France will remain an ally of the UK despite a Brexit decision that he says was built from "many lies and false promises".
The French president marked the historic timing of his annual New Years Address, as the transition period finally came to a close.
"The United Kingdom remains our neighbour, but also our friend and ally," Mr Macron said in the 15-minute televised clip. "This choice to leave Europe, this Brexit, was the child of the European malaise and of many lies and false promises."
Moving to the newly-ratified trade deal with the UK, he assured French citizens this was one that would be "defending our interests, our industries, our fishermen and our European unity".
"Our destiny is first and foremost in Europe," he added.
New Year's Day 2021 has marked an historic shift as - after four years since voting to leave the European Union - the UK exited the Single Market and the Customs Union.
This means there are now significant changes to living, travelling and working across the continent, while business conduct will also cease to remain the same.
For some, like Prime Minister Boris Johnson, this new era is seen as an opportunity for "freedom" and for the four nations of the UK "to come together as one".
He said on Thursday: "We have our freedom in our hands and it is up to us to make the most of it.
"And I think it will be the overwhelming instinct of the people of this country to come together as one United Kingdom — England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland working together to express our values around the world."
For others, like Mr Macron and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the day did more to highlight division.
"Keep the light on," Mrs Sturgeon wrote on Twitter, adding: "Scotland will be back soon, Europe."
In an article for PoliticoEU, Mrs Sturgeon continued: "For too long, successive UK governments have taken Scotland in the wrong direction, culminating in Brexit and the introduction of legislation that had threatened to break international law, and which still undermines the Scottish parliament. It’s no wonder so many people in Scotland have had enough.
"We are committed to a legal, constitutional route to becoming an independent state.
"As an independent member of the European Union, Scotland would be a partner and a bridge-builder — not just a bridge to building a stronger economy and fairer society, but a bridge to aid understanding between the EU and UK."