Time is running dangerously low for Britain to strike a deal on its post-Brexit relations with the EU, the French government has warned Theresa May.
The country’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire on Wednesday said that a forthcoming UK policy paper would have to “fully respect the integrity and the rules of the European Union” if it was to stand any chance of being accepted.
Speaking at a financial services conference in Paris, Mr Le Maire said the UK’s draft Brexit proposals published in draft form last week were a positive step but that uncertainty remained.
“Time is running out, and the on-going uncertainty is no good for anyone, in particular for business,” Mr Le Maire said.
“We want an agreement with the UK but let’s be clear: this agreement has to fully respect the EU’s integrity and rules.”
The finance minister added that for financial services “the only way forward is one based on reviewed and improved equivalence mechanisms” – again dismissing the idea that the City of London could keep its current favourable terms to trade with continental firms.
The senior French minister’s line that the UK will have to accept EU rules echoes statements by European Commission chief negotiator Michel Barnier.