'Brexit scaremongering was fact', ex-French Ambassador to UK tells Rachel Johnson

10 May 2021, 15:03

Difficult Women Podcast: ex-French Ambassador to UK on Brexit

By Tim Dodd

France's former ambassador to the UK Sylvie Bermann tells LBC that Brexit had "no advantages" and that facts were presented as "scaremongering".

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Sylvie made the comments to Rachel Johnson on the Difficult Women podcast, in her first UK broadcast interview since retiring from the French foreign ministry last year.

Sylvie held the post of French ambassador from 2014 - 2017 and was the first woman to do so in a country that is a permanent member of the Security Council.

Speaking to Rachel Johnson, Sylvie said: "I'm afraid I haven't changed my view. What we've seen since January is that there's been a drop in exports of 40%, which is not insignificant, and a lot of companies had to find solutions to set up offices in the EU. The fisherman are complaining, and if you can't see the risk of [a UK] breakup also you have a difficult situation to say the least.

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"It has been said before the referendum, and of course Brexiteers said it was 'scaremongering', but everything was said in fact. And the situation in Northern Ireland, and Scotland, where they want a referendum and the polls are more in favour of independence, and so I don't see any advantages of Brexit."

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Talking about the EU's procurement of vaccines, Sylvie said:

"I think what the EU did was right. It has been said by Ireland - they know they wouldn't have received as many doses without the EU common policy. But of course it's the first time the EU has negotiated such agreements, and before health was not part of it's prerogative.

"So perhaps there's been mistakes in writing the contracts, but at the same time there was a problem because Astrazeneca didn't deliver the doses promised."

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"Now we have a little bit more doses, not enough, while we're able to vaccinate half a million people a day, or in Germany even more than that, so by mid July in fact, 70% of the population in the EU will be vaccinated."

Referencing the UK's vaccination programme since having left the EU, she said: "It is sure that it is faster when you're alone - but maybe we're stronger together."