Emmanuel Macron calls Brexit campaign leaders 'liars', in extraordinary attack

Rob Merrick

Emmanuel Macron has branded the leaders of the campaign for Brexit “liars”, in an extraordinary attack at the close of the Salzburg summit.

The Leave victory was “pushed by those who predicted easy solutions”, the French president said, adding: “Those people are liars. They left the next day so they didn’t have to manage it.”

At the press conference, Mr Macron also made clear he would not accept a “blind deal” – which would leave the nature of the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU to be decided after departure day.

The stance is another blow to Theresa May, given that the EU’s rejection of her Chequers plan has increasingly left a “blind Brexit” as the only possible agreement.

Mr Macron did not name the “liars” behind Brexit, but he targeted those who had promised that leaving the EU would “bring a lot of money home”.

The Vote Leave campaign, fronted by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, infamously pledged it would deliver an extra £350m a week for the NHS – a claim now widely discredited.

“Those who explain that we can easily live without Europe, that everything is going to be alright, and that it's going to bring a lot of money home, are liars,” Mr Macron added.

“It's even more true since they left the day after so as not to have to deal with it.”

Mr Macron made clear the prime minister would need to come up with fresh proposals by the next summit in October.

“We all agreed on this today, the proposals in their current state are not acceptable, especially on the economic side of it. The Chequers plan cannot be take it or leave it.”

Mr Macron made clear the prime minister would need to come up with fresh proposals by the next summit in October.

“We all agreed on this today, the proposals in their current state are not acceptable, especially on the economic side of it. The Chequers plan cannot be take it or leave it.”

The message was echoed by Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, who said: “It was clear today that we need substantial progress by October and that we then aim to finalise everything in November.

She warned: “There is still a lot of work to do on the question of how future trade relations will look. You can't belong to the single market if you are not part of the single market, but you can develop a lot of creativity to find practical, good, close solutions.”

Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, said he still did not believe the UK would crash out of the EU without a deal – but insisted the EU would be ready if it did.

“No deal is not my working assumption, but would it happen, then we are prepared because the commission has prepared in detail all the elements of consequences of a no-deal.”

Mr Juncker added: “So don't worry. Be happy, don't worry.”