France’s relationship with the UK is strained, and they both love it – .

France’s relationship with the UK is strained, and they both love it – .

THERE is a great diversity of opinions among the people I know in France, and in fact, there is not much consensus to be found, even among my closest friends. The only thing everyone I know agrees on is the UK’s relationship with Europe, and in particular with us, the French.

This is how every conversation I have in France on Brexit invariably ends: “Well the English (or the British, most people think those words are interchangeable) never wanted to play collectively. They still want to have their cake and eat it. They should not be trusted, and even if Brexit was bad, in fact, good riddance! Of course, having Boris Johnson as prime minister of a government that flirts with the idea of ​​breaking the treaties it signs doesn’t help the issue of trust.

Even journalists, who are supposed to be impartial, find it difficult to say otherwise. “Looks like the British are taking advantage of the feud,” the host of a political program on national television said the other day, referring to the weakening of diplomatic relations between France and the United Kingdom and the many stones. stumbling block between our two countries, from Brexit to the consequences for the fishing industry to the tragedy of the refugees who died crossing the Channel.

READ MORE: Emmanuel Macron pans Boris Johnson amid war of words over Channel crossings

He was right, and to be fair I think it would be naive not to see that both sides have an interest in exploiting these issues, however horrible they are when it comes to the lives of people dying in trying to escape war and poverty. The British press likes a good feud with the French, especially since President Emmanuel Macron took a tougher stance with the British government during the EU exit negotiations and Brexit did indeed take place.

For his part, the French president is planning a delicate re-election campaign next year, and his stance vis-à-vis the British is probably exactly what he needs to solidify a pro-European, progressive and center-left electorate. who always felt cruelly neglected. since his election in 2017.

Moreover, a literal and metaphorical sea separates the styles, personalities and politics of Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron. Brexit is why Boris Johnson is Prime Minister: leaving the EU has served his political career well. He wants to be loved and won’t hesitate to joke around and play the fool to get your attention. Macron is the opposite: he believes, like the former socialist president François Mitterrand, that “France is our homeland, and Europe is our future”, and must be presented as the promoter of a strong France in a Strong Europe. You will always see him with impeccable hair, and a certain contempt for saying what you want to hear: indeed, he will often offend and offend the French, as at the time when he called us all “Gauls resistant to change” .

READ MORE: France excludes UK from Channel crisis talks after ‘unacceptable’ letter from Boris Johnson

Right now it feels like France and UK are stuck in a loveless marriage, but still need to find within themselves to remain civil because they share so much. The UK may feel like it is being “punished” for Brexit (which it is not, by the way: it is only living the reality of Brexit), but there are always two sides to it. an argument.

The French took the British departure from the EU as a bad break: first with disbelief, then frustration at what was seen as a giant major sent from across the Channel. “Why should we make an effort with the British when they’ve basically told us they’re better off on their own?” The best thing between them and us may indeed be the English Channel, ”is something I have heard countless times.

Generally my answer is: even if you oppose Brexit, aren’t you sorry for the many people who did not vote for, especially the Scots, who think more than ever that it was a extraordinary error? It usually makes them think a bit before they answer, almost invariably: “Ah the Scots. We don’t blame them. They are welcome anytime.


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