“Teek-tock” from Michel Barnier, yet France’s new Europe Minister now wants to stop the clock

Graham Charles Lear
5 min readJun 20, 2020


Yesterday, on the morning after French President Emmanuel Macron was in London being given a Royal welcome by Prince Charles and a Prime Ministerial welcome by Boris Johnson, President Macron’s Secretary of State for European Affairs was attacking the British live on French radio.

On Friday, just after her boss had spent a day enjoying British hospitality, France’s European Minister, Amélie de Montchalin, launched another assault on the British over Brexit.

Speaking in a live interview on France’s “Europe 1” radio station she accused the UK of exerting time pressure and expecting the EU to yield to it. She also implied that the UK would not survive a second Coronavirus wave without being under the protection of the EU. (yes she actually said that)

This her, look at her if this is not an EU fanatic then I am a Chinaman passing on Covid19

© Europe 1 radio

  1. “We will not give in to this time pressure, to this final sprint that the British want to impose on us, hoping that we will yield”

2. “We want to protect our businesses, our fishermen, our farmers”

3. “Those who most need an agreement are the British”

Then the French EU fanatic went on to say this

  1. “They cannot bear a second shock after the epidemic”

2 “They will not have access to the safety net that is Europe, nor to the recovery plan”

3. Asked about a no-deal outcome she said: “I don’t exclude anything”

French Minister complains about what British people have had to endure for years

The French media led with Mme de Montchalin’s comments about the UK side putting the EU under time pressure, and saying that the French would not submit.

In the last four years, the British people have endured a blitz from Mme de Montchalin’s fellow countryman Michel Barnier — as well as from various EU Commission, EU Council, and EU Parliament officials — putting pressure on the UK about the time left to agree on the details of the UK’s withdrawal and future trading relationship.

Just a few examples, only from Monsieur Barney Rubble EU Chief Brexit Negotiator:-

  1. “I’m not hearing any whistling, just the clock ticking” — 11 Jul 2017, Brussels

2. “The Brexit clock is ticking” — 08 Nov 2018, Helsinki

3. “The timeframe is hugely challenging. A new clock is ticking” — 09 Jan 2020, Stockholm

4. “Right now though, the consequence of the United Kingdom’s decision is that the clock is ticking” — 24 Apr 2020, Brussels

France’s official government diplomatic site includes ‘Boris blackmail’ allegations

Diplomacy the French way.

Broadly, the French equivalent of the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office is the ‘Ministère de l’Europe et des Affaires étrangères’. Being a europhile government, France has an equivalent of Dominic Raab (UK Foreign Secretary) in Yves Le Drian, and a Secretary of State for European Affairs in Amélie de Montchalin, who has just three years of French parliamentary experience.

In January, France’s official government ‘Foreign Office’ website, for which Mme de Montchalin has responsibility, published another interview with her. This has been on their website for five months, so it cannot be considered to be an error.

In this interview — on the official French government diplomatic website — the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is accused of blackmail. Below is part of this exchange:-

Q. — “Your issue of the moment is, of course, Brexit, which becomes reality on Friday, although a year-long transition period is beginning. You now need to negotiate, at European level, a trade agreement with the UK. But the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, seems to be using blackmail…. How do you talk to such a partner?”

And what was the French Secretary of State’s response?

“…I personally won’t be engaging in blackmail…”

Q. — “And you won’t give in to Boris Johnson’s blackmail?”

THE MINISTER — “No, I think this is a period chosen by the British; they chose to leave the European Union politically.”

© Jonathan Sarago

NOTE: This interview was approved for publication by the French foreign ministry, as well as the French Embassy in London

One is almost tempted to start these observations with the words: “Only the French could…” That would be unfair, however. Over the years I have found many similar insults from the EU Commission, the EU Council, and the EU Parliament.

It is somewhat astonishing, however, for France’s Secretary of State — Macron’s Europe Minister — to attack the British only hours after he was enjoying British hospitality in London, courtesy of Boris Johnson and HRH The Prince of Wales. President Macron’s popularity is extremely low in France right now so he needed a PR boost, which he got.

Mme de Montchalin was appointed in April last year, after the previous incumbent of her role, Nathalie Loiseau, was given the bird by President Emmanuel Macron. (A little amusement for our French-speaking readers.)

Perhaps we should admire the sheer gall (yes, we know) of a senior French minister complaining that the UK is doing something for which the EU’s French Chief Negotiator has been guilty of for years.

Sources: Europe 1 | official French diplomatic website | EU Commission | EU Council | EU Parliament



Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.