The French government has refused to even consider holding a French European Union membership referendum, Front National leader Marine le Pen has said.
In addition, she said, the EU intends to make the Brexit process as “painful as possible” so as to teach any other would be “leavers” a lesson.
Le Pen made the announcement after attending an emergency meeting of all the major political party leaders at the Elysée Palace on Saturday to discuss the Brexit vote.
The meeting, called by French president François Hollande, was also attended by Nicolas Sarkozy. All three—Hollande, Le Pen, and Sarkozy—are expected to take part in next year’s presidential elections.
Le Pen used the meeting to make her demands known for a referendum on France’s membership of the EU, but she said that her calls were rejected by the other leaders.
She also said that there was a clear strategy on the part of the other leaders to make Britain’s exit as painful as possible so as to set an example to others.
“It is clear that some people want the divorce to be as painful as possible so that others don’t get the idea of going down the same road as the British,” she said.
Observers have pointed out that a Brexit which would impose high costs on Britain for leaving the bloc would serve to limit Le Pen’s calls for a Frexit—and would be an attempt to avoid the issue dominating the forthcoming presidential campaign.
However, given the current political climate, and Le Pen’s undoubted political acumen, the issue of a Frexit vote is likely to be a major issue in the election, despite Hollande’s best efforts.
When the Brexit result was announced, there were jubilant scenes in the FN headquarters, with party vice-president Florian Philippot telling media that the UK vote would “force the same question on French voters. We cannot escape a referendum [in France],” he said.
“It shows the French people, first, that a referendum on the EU is possible—and in a country that has an equivalent size to France. And it shows that you can leave. That is considerable progress in political terms.”