PARIS (Reuters) - The door to the European Union is now closed to Britain and Europeans should not accept any attempt to reverse Brexit, former French President Francois Hollande warned in an interview with Britain’s Daily Telegraph published on Thursday.
“It’s shut. The vote has taken place and nobody can question it,” he said, dismissing attempts by the Remain camp to do so. “One cannot open a negotiation thinking that there is any way out other than leaving,” he was quoted as saying.
“The worst thing would be for overly long discussions (on Brexit) to prevent the EU from moving forward and for doubt to set in about the irrevocable nature of Brexit.”
The former Socialist leader, who ruled France during the 2016 Brexit referendum and until May last year, has recently come out of self-imposed silence to promote his memoirs and step up his criticism of his successor, Emmanuel Macron.
Although Hollande’s hardline view on Brexit echoes that expressed privately by French diplomats, Macron has been careful to keep the door open to Britain changing its mind on Brexit.
On Tuesday, the 40-year old leader told EU lawmakers that the best way for Britain to maintain a strong trade relationship with Europe would be to remain an EU member.
In the Telegraph, Hollande said Europe had been generous enough in its handling of David Cameron’s demand for a renegotiation of the terms of Britain’s EU membership, but that his mistake had been to call a vote at all.
“We all made efforts to give Prime Minister David Cameron the conditions to enable him to go the British people and convince them (to stay),” Hollande was quoted as saying.
“If I have one lesson to take away, it is that referendums are boomerangs,” he said.
Reporting by Michel Rose; editing by John Irish