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France steps up no-deal Brexit preparations

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No deal would impact France significantly REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

France is preparing for a no-deal Brexit after the British parliament overwhelmingly rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's proposed divorce settlement. The Conservative leader faces a vote of no confidence on Wednesday evening.


French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is to meet ministers tomorrow to assess readiness so far and speed up preparations. The meeting was apparently scheduled before yesterday's vote.

A statement from the presidency noted that a no-deal Brexit would be bad for Europe and for France, which is the entry point for much of the trade between Britain and the rest of Europe.

The CNPMEM organisation, which represents French fishermen, expressed concern, noting that an orderly exit with a transition period was necessary so that future trade arrangements could be worked out.

Fishermen in the North of France currently depend heavily on their access to British waters.

No cheers to Brexit

The French wine and spirits industry also today called upon British and EU politicians to try to reach a solution to prevent a serious impact on their sector.

Britain is the second biggest buyer of French wine and spirits, after the United States, with 281 million bottles of wine and alcohol sold to Britain in 2017 for a total of 1.3 billion euros.

The Federation of French wine and wine and spirits exporters (FEVS) is worried that yesterday's vote could effect the longstanding and lucrative trade relationship between the two countries.

No-deal, no problème

However France's financial sector was more upbeat.

The governor of the Bank of France told a French Senate Finance Commission hearing that a no-deal Brexit would be manageable.

François Villeroy de Galhau said the financial sector was better prepared than other parts of the economy.

The French parliament is to pass a law at the end of the week giving the government the power to enact special preparations.

Meanwhile political scientist Colin Hay of SciencesPo in Paris told RFI the issue of how to deal with the land border between Northern Ireland and the European Union remains key to any future trade between Britain and the EU.