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Emmanuel Macron to present London with France's highest honour in display of post-Brexit friendship

The i logo The i 01/02/2020

Emmanuel Macron wearing a suit and tie © Provided by The i In a symbol of post-Brexit friendship, French president Emmanuel Macron has announced plans to present France's highest honour to London.

The French leader, who has been a thorn in the side of Boris Johnson over Brexit in the past, said he plans to visit London later this year to commemorate the two countries' shared history during World War Two.

He said: "I would like to begin a new chapter between our two countries, based on the strength of our unrivalled ties.

"This year we will celebrate the 80th anniversary of General de Gaulle’s June 18 Appeal: the French know what they owe the British, who allowed our Republic to live.

"I am coming to London in June to award the city the Légion d’Honneur, in tribute to the immense courage of a whole country and people."

Mr Macron made the announcement in a letter to the British people, published in The Times.

Boris Johnson, Emmanuel Macron posing for the camera © Provided by The i

Trade warning

The letter struck a friendly tone - denying that France has acted out of "a desire for revenge or punishment" - but issued a clear warning that plans for the UK to diverge from EU rules may impact negotiations for a post-Brexit trade deal.

He said: "The British government wishes to move swiftly forward; we are ready for this. It is in our common interest to define as close and deep a partnership as possible in defence and security, and in police, judicial, environmental, scientific and cultural co-operation.

"At the same time let me be honest, as I have always been: ease of access to the European market will depend on the degree to which the European Union’s rules are accepted, because we cannot allow any harmful competition to develop between us."

The French leader also laid part of the blame for Brexit at the door of "political leaders, in the UK and elsewhere, [who] have too often blamed for all evils, to avoid having to deal with their own failures."

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron (Photo: JOHANNA GERON/AFP via Getty Images)

brexit concept - double exposure of flag and Westminster Palace with Big Ben brexit concept - double exposure of flag and Westminster Palace with Big Ben

Trade talks to begin

On Monday, Boris Johnson will make a speech in London laying out his negotiating objectives for the trade talks with the EU.

Although the UK is now out of the EU, the next round of talks come with a new pressing deadline - with the government scrambling to secure an EU trade deal before the end of the transition period on 1 January, 2021.

The UK's preferred destination is a Canada-style trade deal that would cover goods but at most only minimally cover services.

Gallery: Britain bid's goodbye to EU (Photos)

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