Laurent Fabius, the French Foreign Secretary, speaking on radio station France Info, said that his country would welcome businessmen that would flee Britain if they left the European Union.
He said they would "dérouler le tapis rouge" (roll out the red carpet), to businesses, a dig at David Cameron who used precisely the same term last year in reference to French businessmen and the new 75% tax which has been proposed by French president Francois Hollande.
During the interview Fabius told the interviewer that Europe was not "a la carte", but a set menu, and countries cannot choose which parts of the Union they preferred to adopt.
He said: "We are like a football club, and if you want to join the football club, you can't say 'Let's play rugby'."
The "red carpet" metaphor was a reference to comments Cameron made in June at the G20 summit in Mexico, about France's "corrective finance bill" which will charge 75% of tax for those earning over one million euros.
- David Cameron Promises In Or Out EU Referendum If Tories Win 2015 Election
- EU Speech: Tory MPs Welcome David Cameron's 'Historic' Referendum Pledge
- BLOG: EU Vote: Stay in 40%, Leave 34%
- Cameron's EU Speech In Full
- No Time To Read All Of Cameron's EU Speech?
- BLOG: The UK Must Remain at the EU Table - the PM is Right
- Revealed: Three EU Referendum Questions The Tories Are Considering
- 'We'll Roll Out The Red Carpet For British Businessmen'
- WATCH: Nick Clegg Attacks 'Grinding Uncertainty' Of Referendum
Cameron said at the time: "If the French go ahead with a 75% top rate of tax we will roll out the red carpet and welcome more French businesses to Britain and they will pay taxes in Britain and that will pay for our health service, and our schools and everything else.”
French Work Minister Michel Sapin, when asked about the comments, joked: “I’m not sure how you roll a red carpet over the Channel; it would probably get wet."