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Brexit 'cannot be delayed or cancelled', says French president Francois Hollande

Published 01/07/2016

French President Francois Hollande said any second thoughts about the Brexit outcome have come too late
French President Francois Hollande said any second thoughts about the Brexit outcome have come too late

The UK's withdrawal from the European Union "cannot be delayed or cancelled", French president Francois Hollande has said.

Mr Hollande was speaking after talks with David Cameron, during which he assured the Prime Minister of his continued commitment to allowing UK border guards to carry out checks on ferry and train passengers on French soil after Brexit.

The president said that following last week's historic referendum vote to quit the EU, British voters are "beginning to understand" what they stand to lose. But he indicated that any second thoughts about the outcome have come too late.

Mr Hollande told the AFP news agency: "Being in the European Union has its advantages and I think that is what the British are beginning to understand, what those who are tempted by the Brexit are going to reflect upon.

"But the decision has been taken - it cannot be delayed or cancelled. Now we must take the consequences."

A survey by Opinium Research found 7% of Leave voters now regret their choice, while a BMG poll for the Evening Standard found 13% regret their vote to some degree. The BMG survey suggested that Remain would win a referendum held now by a margin of 45%-40%.

Opponents of UK withdrawal warned during the campaign that Brexit could lead to border controls being shifted to the British side of the English Channel, with the danger of a migrant encampment like the Calais "Jungle" springing up in Dover.

In the wake of last week's result, Xavier Bertrand, the president of the Hauts-de-France region which includes Calais, called on Mr Hollande to revoke the 2003 Le Touquet treaty which allows so-called "juxtaposed controls" on either side of the Channel.

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But Number 10 said that in talks on the margin of First World War commemorations in France, Mr Hollande and the Prime Minister affirmed their shared commitment to keeping the arrangement.

And they said both sides continue to support the long-delayed Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in Somerset, which is due to be built and part-financed by the mainly state-owned French company EDF.

In a statement, Downing Street said: "They agreed the bilateral relationship between the UK and France was enduring and strong, and that our defence and security co-operation in particular would continue to go from strength to strength, based on the solid foundation of the Lancaster House Treaty.

"They agreed a mutual commitment to continue working closely together to protect our shared border in Calais and to maintain the so-called 'juxtaposed controls'.

"They discussed Hinkley and agreed that there was continued UK and French support for the project.

"The Prime Minister also reiterated his view that the United Kingdom should seek the closest possible relations with the EU and in that context, the need for constructive post-referendum negotiations."

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