Brexit Bulletin: Macron Plays Ode to Joy

  • Macron has said Brexit won’t be easy, and pledges EU unity
  • May steps up efforts to getting out the vote on June 8

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Emmanuel Macron won the French presidency, strengthening the European Union ahead of the Brexit negotiations.

He immediately underscored where his sympathies lie in that debate by appearing at a victory rally to the sound of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, Europe’s anthem. 

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Emmanuel Macron with his wife Brigitte Trogneux, after delivering a speech in front of the Louvre Museum in Paris on May 7.

Photographer: Christophe Morin/Bloomberg

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May spoke to him and “reiterated that the U.K. wants a strong partnership with a secure and prosperous EU once we leave.”

We wrote recently what a Macron presidency might mean for the Brexit talks.

Macron, who once called Brexit a “crime,” reinforced that analysis last week when he said the divorce will “not be a walk in the park.” He has vowed to be “strongly coordinated” with fellow EU leaders, and also estimated the Brexit bill at between 60 billion euros and 80 billion euros ($66 billion to $88 billion) -- a range the British challenge.

Arnaud de Bresson, managing director of the Europlace group that lobbies for Paris, said Macron would now seek to revamp the French economy, making it more appealing to banks looking to relocate from London.

“We should have a business-friendly president,” said Bresson, who reckons 20,000 workers could eventually move to Paris from the U.K.

At the same time, Macron makes France and therefore the EU a more stable negotiating partner than had Marine Le Pen won. He might even change the EU in a way the British would have favored. Aide Clement Beaune also told Bloomberg on Friday that Macron wants to maintain a “special relationship” with the U.K.

Check out more of Bloomberg’s coverage of the French election, including Marc Champion’s take on why France and Europe are entering the last chance saloon

Local Victory

Back in Britain, May has her own elections to focus on.

Last week’s thumping victories in local votes across the U.K. suggest her Conservative Party is heading for a landslide nationally on June 8 as the electoral map is reconfigured along the faultlines of Brexit.

“May’s consolidation of the Brexit vote is a quite astonishing success,” said Rob Ford, professor of politics at the University of Manchester. “They’re gaining voters who are excited about Brexit, and not losing voters who aren’t.”

She’s taking nothing for granted. Worried that people won’t bother to vote because the Tories seem to have it in the bag, she will urge her team on Monday to work “flat out” for “every vote.”

Last week’s sweeping wins will be seen as validating May’s decision to turn aggressive on Brussels last week, even if it costs her when the Brexit talks begin. Dislike of the EU, rather than opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, might be more of an incentive for voters to go to the ballot box.

Government ministers returned to the Brussels-bashing theme on Sunday. Home Secretary Amber Rudd claimed European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had held “very hostile” briefings against May, while Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said some EU countries “appear to think that for the EU to survive, Britain must fail.”

A YouGov survey for The Sunday Times will have been welcomed by Downing Street. Not only did it show the Tories leading Labour by 19 percentage points, but it also found 51 percent of voters believe the EU has been trying to influence the election outcome with leaks of the recent dinner between May and Juncker.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is cross with Juncker too, Der Spiegel reported, following Bloomberg’s reporting last week.

Citizens’ Rights

The European Union’s chief negotiator set the stage on Friday for months of difficult talks on the topic of rights for the 3 million EU nationals living in the U.K.

Michel Barnier said their residency protection rights must be enforceable by the European Court of Justice and extend to relatives who may not be EU citizens. They must also apply to people who may not have the paperwork to prove they have been residents.

All those proposals will raise eyebrows in London, especially the one regarding the ECJ, whose jurisdiction May has vowed to end.

Speaking at the same event, Juncker risked irritating the U.K. anew by declaring he would speak in French because “English is losing importance in Europe.

Separately, Rudd said U.K. employers must hire more British workers. The Observer reported that billionaire Peter Hargreaves, the biggest donor to the campaign for Brexit, wanted May to unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU citizens.

The Brexit-Proof Bank

Bank of New York Mellon Corp. might be the most Brexit-proof American bank.

The firm, which has about 5,000 U.K. staff, sees fewer than 20 additional markets-related positions being needed in offices in Frankfurt, Paris, Dublin, Luxembourg and elsewhere, BNY Mellon’s chairman for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Michael Cole-Fontayn, said in an interview.

That’s because the firm has a fully licensed bank in Brussels from which it can sell most of its services around the EU already.

“We are very well positioned for it,” Cole-Fontayn said. “Not least because that has been our business model all along. If you aspire to be the investments company for the world, you had better be in all the major countries to a meaningful extent.”

A report by law firm Freshfields for TheCityUK released on Monday says that banks are making contingency plans based on the “worst case” scenario in which they lose easy access to the bloc.

Brexit Bullets

  • The European Commission’s lawyers have warned it that a 100 billion euro Brexit bill is “legally impossible” to enforce, the Telegraph reports
  • Inga Beale, CEO of Lloyd’s of London, warns in the Sunday Times of the “hidden impact” of Brexit, predicting a slowdown in four years because of a prolonged pause in investment.
  • 30 percent voters tell ORB for The Independent that they are considering voting tactically in the hope of preventing a hard Brexit
  • The Sun columnist James Forsyth writes the U.K. government could publish its contingency plan for leaving the EU without a trade deal to prove it is prepared to walk away from the talks
  • The U.K. government has asked American conflict negotiator William Ury to advise on Brexit, says The Sun
  • The Sunday Times estimates there are 134 billionaires in the U.K. and the wealthiest 1,000 people grew richer last year despite fears that a vote for Brexit would cause recession
  • A study by Opal Transfer suggests one in 20 small- and medium-sized British businesses have directors from EU

And Finally?

Street artist Banksy claimed credit for a mural in the port of Dover depicting a European flag being chiseled by a workman.

The art appeared overnight near the Kent town’s ferry terminal and later on Banksy’s Instagram account.

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