Theresa May furthered negotiations within the European Union on the ceremony of the Somme, by attending several war memorials in France over the last week. As well as joining the French president, Emmanuel Macron, on his armistice commemoration tour, in a time where both French and British nationalism threatening the ‘fragile peace’ holding the EU together.
We recognize the negotiations in Brussels need to come to an agreement, even if the outcome comes to a no deal Brexit. However, the show of unity with allies in Europe by traveling to the small northern town of Albert in the Somme is part of a wider campaign by Theresa May to develop connections to the EU amongst the uncertainty of Brexit. Macron too maintained a firm line on protecting the EU’s founding principles as the UK departs.
With both states claiming to remain in a close relationship, Macron is making the effort to be a hospitable host, making up for his absence for last year’s memorial. Macron, although born and raised in the city of Amiens, was not present this summer at Amiens cathedral where May and Prince William commemorated one of many decisive battles in remembrance of all those fallen in World War One.
The British foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, arrived in Paris before the commemoration, to reinforce the relationship between Britain and France and to reinsure the French as well as British people, that the relationship between the two states will not be harmed by Brexit.
The French Senate has already passed legislation to cover any problems, for the short term, if there is a no deal Brexit outcome next March, French citizens close to the coast, however, are keen for an exit deal to be struck.
Every country that fought in the war have a shared sacrifice, May and Macron symbolized the unity in between their countries by laying a wreath at the memorial in Thiepval. The memorial commemorates 72,337 missing British and South African servicemen who died in battle along the Somme river and those who died with no name but are not forgotten.
“A century ago, British forces fought side by side with our allies in Europe on the western front. Today in France and Belgium we reflect on our shared history, but also look ahead to our shared future, built on peace, prosperity, and friendship,” May said in a statement.
May’s France visit marked the start of a frantic weekend of armistice diplomacy for Macron. Donald Trump landed in Paris on Friday night and held talks with Macron before convening at the ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris earlier today, attended by world leaders across the globe, including Vladimir Putin.
Today, Macron, Angela Merkel, and the UN general secretary, António Guterres, will join the other world leaders, with the exception of May and Trump, in a peace forum held in Paris.