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France Seeks to Turn Tables on U.K. Over Cameron EU Exit Talk

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said, “You can’t do Europe a la carte. It risks being dangerous for Great Britain itself.” Photographer: Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images

France’s Socialist government has appealed to British business leaders concerned about a possible U.K. exit from the European Union to cross the English Channel.

“If Great Britain decides to leave Europe, we will roll out the red carpet for you,” French Finance Minister Laurent Fabius told a U.K. business group recently, he recounted on France Info radio today.

Fabius’s proposition contrasts with Britain’s bid to exploit higher taxes imposed by France last year. In October, London Mayor Boris Johnson sought to woo talented French immigrants to the U.K. capital away from the “tyranny” he says they were suffering under President Francois Hollande’s tax increases.

“We say to the people, not since 1789 has there been such tyranny in France,” Johnson joked, referring to the year of the French revolution. “I am very keen to welcome talented French people to London.” He noted that there are already 240,000 French nationals in the capital.

Fabius’s turn came as U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron gave a speech promising voters a referendum on whether Britain should leave the EU and backing a single economic market as opposed to the political union among 27 nations.

“You can’t do Europe a la carte,” Fabius said. “It risks being dangerous for Great Britain itself.”

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