France's Macron says post-Brexit priority is protecting EU citizens

Emmanuel Macron (R), head of the political movement En Marche !, or Onwards !, and candidate for the 2017 French presidential election, meets London Mayor Sadiq Khan at his campaign headquarters in Paris, France, March 29, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Feferberg/Pool

PARIS (Reuters) - Emmanuel Macron, the centrist who is favourite to win the French presidential election in May, said on Wednesday his priority, as Britain starts the process of divorce from the European Union, would be to protect EU citizens.

“The question is not to punish the UK for a vote by the British people. The question on both sides is to organise precisely and smoothly such a decision,” he said after meeting London mayor Sadiq Khan.

“My priority will be to protect the European Union and the interests of the European citizen and my deep wish is to have Great Britain, with the European Union ... in another relationship,” he told reporters.

“I think particularly on defence matters it’s important to work together.”

Reporting by Andrew Callus; Editing by Richard Balmforth