The former French ambassador to the United Kingdom told Agence France-Presse in an interview that Britain is facing a difficult challenge to maintain its global influence after leaving the European Union under the presidency of the prime minister known as “lying”. .
Sylvie Berman, who was ambassador to London from 2014-2017 and witnessed the 2016 Brexit referendum live, raised some eyebrows in the UK with some certainly undiplomatic comments in her book “Goodbye Britannia” published in French in January.
She expresses her love for “dynamic, traditional and modern” London, the squirrels and foxes in its gardens and streets, the British culture and the country’s sense of humor.
But in the book, she also did not try to hide deep frustration with much of her political class, especially those who led the country to Brexit and described Prime Minister Boris Johnson as a “unrepentant liar.”
“Why, when you are dynamic, successful and influential in the European Union, why do you decide to leave?” Berman, who has also served as ambassador to Moscow and Beijing, told AFP at her home in the heart of Paris.
It will be more difficult. More efforts will be needed (by the UK) to have a real impact in the world. “
She said this would be particularly difficult in the geopolitical context of the “cold war” between the United States and China, in which both sides look to the European Union rather than the United Kingdom.
She said: “There is a tripartite relationship (between China, the European Union and the United States) and it is difficult for the United Kingdom to play a role.”
She said that the “special relationship” between Britain and the United States “is above all for the British” and not the United States.
The United States has often used the British as a bridge or relay with the European Union. It is clearly a lost role now. “
Moreover, there are difficulties in trade relations, as evidenced by Britain’s threat this week to breach the terms of the Brexit treaty by unilaterally delaying food inspections destined for Northern Ireland.
“These are the results of the selection that was made in the referendum,” she said.
Berman admitted that in the fight against COVID-19, “the British vaccination campaign is better than the European campaign. Bravo for that” with far more people taking a jab than the major European Union member states.
But she added, “This is not due to Brexit altogether, as vaccine orders were issued while the UK was still subject to European rules.”
In her book, Berman says that David Cameron, the laid-back former prime minister who called the Brexit referendum, “would be forever responsible for Brexit,” but adds that it would “probably never have happened” if it wasn’t for Johnson. He has defended Brexit. .
“Boris Johnson … a man who uses insults toward the European Union, starting with the French, whom he has not hesitated to call“ the rich. ”He is above all an unrepentant liar,” she wrote in the book.
“I am amazed that everyone caused a fuss because I said he was lying because he was well documented of course,” she told France Press, referring to how he created the “Euro Legend” with sometimes wonderful stories during his tenure as a correspondent for Brussels. From The Daily Telegraph.
She said that no one understood at the time of the referendum that the world had entered a “new era of populism” that was evident with the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States later in 2016.
That is why Cameron was so confident (of winning). He told the European Union leaders that he would win and to the end he thought it would be a “survival.” It was a miscalculation. “
Berman expressed her mourning over Brexit, noting that when she arrived as ambassador, London was still teeming with the success of the 2012 Olympic Games which were seen as a celebration of modern British identity.
There was a real charm to the country. Everyone was baffled by the decision, it was a surprise in Europe but also in China, India, Japan and Singapore. “
She described Britain’s exit from the European Union as an “amputation” for the European Union.
“The British have sovereignty in their decision, but they cannot believe that this is not our business, but it is ours because it is a divorce and divorce from us.”