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Clément Beaune: France's Europe minister is Macron's attack dog for all things Brexit

·3-min read
Clément Beaune
Clément Beaune

Clément Beaune has never been afraid to mock Brexit, once describing the UK's choice to leave the EU as "intellectual fraud".

It is one of the many barbs aimed at Downing Street from a man who has become Emmanuel Macron's attack dog on all matters Brexit.

Mr Beaune, who comes from a middle class Parisian background, speaks fluent English and is a product of France’s elite training programme for high-flying civil servants.

He is also a graduate of the College of Europe in Bruges, which is widely regarded as a finishing school for future eurocrats and was attended by Nick Clegg.

Mr Beaune, 40, was Mr Macron’s advisor on Europe for two years when he was a minister for the economy in Francois Hollande’s administration.

When Mr Macron jumped ship to form his own party and win a shock victory in the French presidential election, he brought Mr Beaune back to his side.

The two men worked together on Mr Macron’s Sorbonne speech that set out his vision for the future of the EU in the early days of his presidency.

Later they strategised how to build French influence in Brussels and wargamed the French position on the Brexit negotiations.

During those years of tough talks, Paris was often the “bad cop” among the EU member states; urging the hardest line possible.

Clément Beaune
Clément Beaune

Mr Beaune has kept the pressure up on Britain since he was given the post of Europe minister in July 2020.

He was soon getting stuck into his new role and getting stuck into Britain. He has been unrelenting in his criticism of the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

On television and particularly on Twitter, Mr Beaune has regularly taken Britain to task over everything from Northern Ireland, supply shortages, which he blamed on Brexit, and fishing rights.

Mr Beaune has said that fuel shortages at petrol stations proved that Brexit was "an intellectual fraud". When Boris Johnson approved emergency visas for HGV drivers, he said Britain was "re-europeanising itself" after ending freedom of movement.

He mocked Britain for the fishing feud, taunting that it wouldn't put Turkeys on supermarket shelves. He said: "Stop telling us you do not need us anymore, stop being obsessed with us, stop believing we will solve your problems. They made a mess of Brexit. It’s their choice and their failure, not ours."

And on Thursday morning he warned that French retaliation over a shortage of Brexit fishing licences was necessary because the only language Boris Johnson understood was “the language of force”.

Many of his lacerating social media barbs, which regularly spark headlines and frequently annoy Brexiteers, have found their mark.

According to reports in France, Boris Johnson personally asked Emmanuel Macron to rein in Mr Beaune’s Twitter game.

Mr Macron refused, despite reports that some more senior ministers were getting jealous of Mr Beaune’s burgeoning profile.

Despite his aggressive style in public, Mr Beaune is polite, cautious and softly spoken in person.

But he is clearly not scared of a fight; even if it is with his own EU allies.

After coming out as gay in a French magazine, he attacked the Poland for the LGBT free zones springing up in the country.

As the UK can attest, he will prove a formidable and unsparing opponent to the government in Warsaw.

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