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Britain 'must assume consequences' of Brexit: French minister

[WASHINGTON] Britain must face the consequences of its decision to exit the European Union, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Thursday.

The remarks came as talks in Brussels deadlocked between British and EU officials over Britain's future relationship with the single market.

"They can no longer pretend to have the benefits of the membership within the European Union without being a member of European Union anymore," Mr Le Maire said on the sidelines of the annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

EU negotiator Michel Barnier announced on Thursday that latest round of talks had reached a "disturbing" impasse, fuelling worries that Britain could have a "hard exit," leaving the EU without no arrangement.

Mr Le Maire said Thursday he regretted the British public's decision to pull out of the EU, handed down after a referendum last year, but added it was time to face the music.

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"I think it is a historic mistake and that the consequences of the Brexit will be bad consequences for British people. But now the British people and the British government have to assume the consequences of their decision," he said.

"I deeply regret the decision which has been taken by the British people," said Mr Le Maire.

Appearing on a panel with Mr Le Maire, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, herself a former French finance minster, said a hard break by Britain with the European Union would be catastrophic.

"I just cannot imagine that it could happen," she said.

"Our hope is that it be conducted promptly in order to reduce the level of uncertainty and the anxiety of people about the outcome and the situation of the people, first, and of businesses, second," she said.


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