Britain faces challenge to retain global influence after departure from the EU

Paris, March 6 (AFP/APP): Britain faces a tough challenge to retain global influence after its departure from the EU under a prime minister who has a well-known reputation for “lying”, France’s former ambassador to the UK told Agence France-Presse (AFP) in an interview.

Sylvie Bermann, who was ambassador to London from 2014-2017 and witnessed the 2016 Brexit referendum at first hand, has raised some eyebrows in the UK with some decidedly undiplomatic comments in her book “Goodbye Britannia” published in French in January.

She professes her love for the “dynamic, traditional and modern” London, the squirrels and foxes in its parks and streets, British culture and the country’s sense of humour. But in the book she also makes no attempt to hide a deep frustration with much of its political class and in particular those who led the country to Brexit, calling Prime Minister Boris Johnson an “unrepentant liar”.

“Why, when you are very dynamic and successful and influential in the EU, why do you decide to leave?” Bermann, who also served as ambassador to Moscow and Beijing, told AFP at her home in the heart of Paris. “It will be more difficult.

And there will need to be much more effort (by the UK) to have a true influence in the world.” She said that this will be particularly hard in the geopolitical context of the “Cold War” between the United States and China, with the two protagonists looking to the EU rather the UK.

“There is a triangular (China-EU-US) relationship and it is harder for the United Kingdom to play a role,” she said.

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