French Europe minister still hopes UK will return to EU

PARIS — French Europe Minister Clément Beaune stands by his tough rhetoric on Brexit, but hopes the U.K. will come back to the EU.

Since the EU and U.K. finalized a Brexit trade deal at the 11th hour on Christmas Eve, Beaune has not minced his words about what he has described as “lies” and U-turns by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Brexiteers. His rhetoric even reportedly ruffled feathers in Johnson’s office.

“I think we need to say what we think; I continue to think that Brexit is a bad thing, it’s a personal and political opinion, it will be a bad thing for the U.K., it’s not good news for the EU,” Beaune told POLITICO in an interview on Friday.

But he said he hasn’t forgotten those in the U.K. who disagree with Brexit. He added that Britons sent letters to the French embassy and to him, sharing their sadness over the Brexit decision.

“I know it wasn’t a happy day for them or for me, I don’t forget that in some areas, like Scotland, Brexit is still a difficult moment,” Beaune said.

“I don’t forget that there are veterans and youths who we

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