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In rare 'rebuke,' Queen weighs in on Brexit brouhaha

Queen Elizabeth has urged people to seek "common ground," in remarks widely interpreted as a veiled criticism of the toxic debate surrounding Britain's departure from the European Union.

Remarks seen as veiled criticism of continuing debate over Britain's departure from European Union

Queen Elizabeth, seen here arriving for the Royal Family's Christmas Day service last month, is barred from directly commenting on political issues, but a speech Thursday contained veiled criticism of Britain's handling of Brexit. (Hannah McKay/Reuters)

Queen Elizabeth has urged people to seek "common ground," in remarks widely interpreted as a veiled criticism of the toxic debate surrounding Britain's departure from the European Union.

While the monarch didn't mention Brexit and is barred from commenting on political issues, the Times of London described the comments as a "rebuke to warring politicians."

Lawmakers on all sides of the increasingly tense Brexit debate have traded barbs in recent weeks as Prime Minister Theresa May tries to push ahead with the divorce deal she negotiated with EU leaders even though it has been overwhelmingly rejected by Parliament.

"Every generation faces fresh challenges and opportunities," the monarch said Thursday in a speech marking the 100th anniversary of the Women's Institute in Sandringham, home to one of the royal family's country estates.

"As we look for new answers in the modern age, I for one prefer the tried and tested recipes, like speaking well of each other and respecting different points of view; coming together to seek out the common ground; and never losing sight of the bigger picture."

While her remarks to the Women's Institute were similar to those in the Queen's annual Christmas address, they come as May faces increasing pressure to rule out the possibility of leaving the EU without an agreement on future relations.

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, a prominent supporter of the prime minister, said Thursday she was  "committed to making sure we avoid no-deal," which would have devastating effects on the British economy. A string of union leaders have been holding talks with May and are also urging her to take no-deal off the table.

France prepares for the worst

Meanwhile, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Friday his country is preparing for the worst as the clock ticks down to Brexit, adding that he does not have any more to give as May battles to break the deadlock.

Le Maire said a no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for Britain and that it was up to the government to find a solution before Britain leaves the European Union on March 29.

He added that in the event of a no-deal, France could not ease the process by offering side deals on aviation or logistics.

"You can't be out of the EU and getting all the benefits of the single market," he told BBC radio. "That is a clear red line for France."

With files from Reuters

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