The vice-president of France’s right-wing Rassemblement National (RN) party Jordan Bardella said on Friday that Brexit was “a slap in the face” for the European Union, as he warned that the now 27-member bloc had to undergo deep change or face collapse.
M Bardella, who is also a member of the European Parliament, told the news channel BFM-TV: “Brexit is a slap in the face for the European Union.
“The European Union is dead. Europe’s sovereignists have been sounding the alarm bell for years.”
“The current model of European construction is doomed to fail … Brexit must be seen as an opportunity to put a number of European treaties back on the table,” M Bardella continued, as he called for the bloc to “change everything without destroying anything”.
Although it has long dropped its calls for a Frexit, France’s leading far-right RN party has long urged the bloc to reinvent itself and become a union of sovereign nation-states.
Rassemblement national party member Jordan Bardella
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that Brexit would be a ‘stunning success’ for Britain
RN leader Marine Le Pen dropped her party’s calls for a Frexit after her crushing defeat to pro-EU centrist Emmanuel Macron in the 2017 presidential election.
Her party, however, remains fiercely eurosceptic and continues to advocate for a return to a Europe of independent nation-states.
The UK finally cast off from the EU on Friday evening, with Brexiteers hailing an “independence day” they said marked the start of a new era for the country.
In a video address released earlier in the day, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that Brexit would be a “stunning success” for Britain.
He said: “For many people, this is an astonishing moment of hope, a moment they thought would never come.
“The most important thing to say tonight is that this is not an end but a beginning.”
He added: “And yes, it is partly about using these new powers – this recaptured sovereignty – to deliver the changes people voted for.
“Whether that is by controlling immigration or creating freeports or liberating our fishing industry or doing free trade deals.”
While almost nothing will change straight away because of an 11-month transition period negotiated as part of the exit deal, Britain is legally out of the bloc.
Mr Johnson has promised to strike a broad trade agreement with Brussels.
His aim is a deal allowing for tariff and quota-free trade in goods, similar to the terms the bloc now has in place with Canada.
But, the EU has warned it will not sign a trade deal with a large economically powerful neighbour without solid provisions to guarantee fair competition.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said last week: “We are considering a zero-tariff, zero-quotas free trade agreement. But … we will certainly not expose our companies to unfair competition”.
No new relationship will replicate the benefits of membership for Britain, she insisted, adding that she hoped London and Brussels would “stay good friends and partners”.
The EU has repeatedly warned that 11 months is not enough time to negotiate a post-Brexit free trade deal and that a messy exit might still happen at the end of the year if the transition ends without any agreement in place.