Macron - Britain would be biggest loser in case of no-deal Brexit

FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron looks on as he meets with disabled handball players during the inauguration of a new handball complex in Creteil, on the outskirts of Paris, France January 9, 2019. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday Britain would be the biggest loser if it left the European Union without a deal, after the British parliament resoundingly rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit divorce agreement.

Macron was reaching the end of an almost seven-hour debate with local officials when he was told of the result of the British vote.

“First option, they go towards a no deal. They say: ‘there is no deal’. That’s scary for everybody. The first losers in this would be the British,” Macron told mayors during a town hall meeting in Normandy.

“Second option, they tell us - in my view, that’s what they’ll do, I know them a bit - ‘we’ll try to improve what we can get from the Europeans and we’ll get back for a vote’,” Macron said.

“In that case, we’ll look into it, maybe we’ll make improvements on one or two things, but I don’t really think so because we’ve reached the maximum of what we could do with the deal and we won’t, just to solve Britain’s domestic political issues, stop defending European interests,” he said.

After praising the head of the European Council Donald Tusk and the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, Macron said he expected Britain to eventually ask for more time to renegotiate a deal.

“There’s a third option, which is to say - and in my view they’ll start with the second option and then we’ll eventually end up with the third - ‘actually, we’re going to take more time to renegotiate something’,” he said.

“It creates a great deal of uncertainty and worries.”

Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Janet Lawrence