The French and Brexit

The other day I read a story in The Sun, which was repeated in The Express, saying French President Emmanuel Macron was threatening to blockade the port of Calais once Britain leaves the EU. I was going to write something in response but found no evidence in either article that Macron had said any such thing: it was merely speculation by some remainer politicians ramping up project fear.

It was nonsense, of course:

French officials have rejected suggestions they could resort to a “go-slow” policy at the port of Calais if there is no Brexit deal.

The UK’s Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab warned on Thursday of major disruption in a “worse case scenario”, which might force firms to use other ports.

But Xavier Bertrand, president of the Hauts-de-France region, said ensuring “fluidity” of trade was essential.

Another official said closing Calais would be an “economic suicide mission”.

As most of my readers know, I’ve been living in France since before the Brexit vote. Here’s the aggregate view of the French from where I’m standing: we don’t care. Now some might think the decision was stupid, but the French are no strangers to making silly decisions in what they perceive to be their national interest, and so can perfectly understand why a majority might have voted to leave. They also share the view of many mainland Europeans that Britain’s heart was never really in the EU project, they were always moaning and asking for opt-outs, and so perhaps they’re better off leaving. The subject of Brexit rarely even comes up; unsurprisingly, the French have other things to concern them.

So even if French politicians decided to punish Britain for leaving by causing chaos at the ports, this would be unpopular with ordinary Frenchmen who already take an exceptionally dim view of Macron. The French might burn a lorry load of British sheep on the motorway or illegally ban imports of British beef in order to protect their own industries, but they don’t hate the British to the point they want them punished over Brexit, let alone ports blocked which would hurt them as much as us.

Last weekend I met a bunch of Frenchmen to play some music, all of them over fifty. During the break the subject turned to politics, and they expressed their dissatisfaction with the ruling classes in France and Europe generally. I understand the younger generation have grown up brainwashed on EU propaganda, but rather than resenting Britain, I think a lot of French and other Europeans have more in common with Brexiteers than we think. Not that you’d know this listening to politicians or the media: their view of Europe comes from people of exactly the same privileged social class as them, only sitting in a different capital city. That they’re seriously suggesting the French are going to blockade Calais shows how little they know about the countries they’re fighting to maintain their partnership with.

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13 thoughts on “The French and Brexit

  1. Suppose Calais let through duty free imports to UK but dragged their feet and charged maximum tariff (4-5%) on UK exports, obstructed logistics, etc.
    A lot of the trucks held up in Dover would be foreign, empty, and not even French registered.
    That’s why a blockade won’t happen.

  2. I live in France too. Brexit is not much in the News it seems to me. British goods and TV programmes very popular here. A few years ago there was an ad campaign ‘So British’ (Briteesh) because British is associated with quality and being classy. The French won’t want access to British goods disrupted.

    Any ‘go-slow’ on the French side would clog outgoing as well as incoming traffic. This would have serious consequences for producers just about everywhere on the Continent. If lorries are tied up in the Channel ports, they are not available to transport goods internally, never mind for export.

    The French and German car companies located in the UK won’t want their trade with the Continent disrupted, most of Ireland’s trade goes by road across the UK to the Channel ports, even trade outside Europe which comes and goes via Rotterdam.

    Of course the EU wants a deal, but there is an over-riding factor. The EU deal is predicated on politics, the British see it as a matters of economics.

    It is why the best option for the UK is no deal. They are never going to get a deal that is not punitive and/or ties the UK economy to the EU economy, as it is of primary importance to the Federalists to maintain the integreity of their project and discourage others. The EU are thus using the trade card to leverage a political solution.

    If the UK just leaves, they lose that leverage and I guarantee a deal on trade would be done inside 24 hours to keep the French cheeses and wines moving West and French and German cars made in the UK moving East.

  3. It seems to me that the Italians are politically in a better position than us. They elected a majority and hence a government dedicated to addressing the concerns of the Italian people regardless what the EU wants, and turfed out the placeholders in the process. We got a referendum that told the placeholders to get out of the EU but left them in office. Unsurprisingly they are messing about.
    I hope and expect that we will leave with no deal, firstly because any deal negotiated by May is bound to be awful, and secondly because she has led the EU to expect a deal that she has no chance of getting through Parliament.
    The classical liberal brexit supporters need to recognise that they will never have power in the Conservative party, and either form their own or join UKIP. They will find in either case that ideas unthinkable amongst the “elite” are widely held outside it. They will also likely discover that the “Conservative” vote is really the anti Labour vote, and the ” Labour” vote is largely the anti conservative vote.

  4. Something that most of the press never grasp is that a lot of organisations do contingency planning for “worst case scenarios”, particularly where the potential outcome is massive.

    Everyone thinks everything will be fine March 29th. Honestly. All this stuff about getting car parts is bollocks. If it wasn’t bollocks, Honda would be building massive warehouses near Swindon for the days of parts they need. They aren’t building massive warehouses. But there’s still a doubt about Brexit. And it’s just about new rules and processes, that maybe, people getting used to it will cause a small delay. Probably won’t even happen, but what if it does? Do they want the line standing around without parts to build cars? Or would they rather spend a little more to hold some stock for a few days to make sure that doesn’t happen?

    Raab is just looking at the possible risks. Maybe going a little too far, but if you were the government, would you do different? Or cover your arse?

  5. Pretty sure I saw a statistic that 85% of trucks going from the UK are empty.

    How long can you spend inspecting an empty truck?

    The main article makes a wonderful point. Metro (main free london paper) headlines with Macros says Brits will be illegal immigrants. Only be going online and researching could you find the story was “Brits would be illegal immigrants so we in France are passing laws now to protect them”. A bit different.

  6. “Pretty sure I saw a statistic that 85% of trucks going from the UK are empty.”

    Great, after we’ve left they can be used to move out all those Remainers who’ve threatened to leave if Brexit goes through.

  7. Here’s the aggregate view of the French from where I’m standing: we don’t care.

    This reminds me of the difference between the general attitudes of Canadians and Americans regarding Canadian politics.

  8. Calais closed, eh? If only. That would stop a large percentage of “refugees” from using the most convenient route into the UK.

    I’d agree it is more scaremongering about a no deal Brexit. They forgot to mention Snakes on a Plane, too.

  9. @John B on October 27, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    Tony Abbott: How to save Brexit : Britain has nothing to fear from no deal

    ..Freed from EU rules, Britain would automatically revert to world trade, using rules agreed by the World Trade Organization. It works pretty well for Australia. So why on earth would it not work just as well for the world’s fifth-largest economy?..

    Good article – agree except:

    Third, there should continue to be free movement of people from Europe into Britain”

    Blow the bloody doors off and Leave. Once we’re out, then strike a deal.

  10. @Pat on October 27, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    Italian PM Warns ‘No Plan B’ After Brussels Rejects Italian Budget

    Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has warned that there is no “plan B” for Italy following the European Commission’s unprecedented rejection of the Italian budget.

    …“The EU has rejected the Italian economic manoeuvre, but nothing changes,” Salvini said and added: “They simply irritate the Italians more and then one wonders why the popularity of the EU is at a minimum in Italy and Europe.”

    Salvini’s comments allude to a recent study which revealed that only 44 percent of Italians would actually vote to remain in the European Union if a referendum on membership were held…..

    EU decrees only the 44% matter, the 56% are stupid, racist, xenophobic, populist deplorables. Democracy verboten in EUSSR

    This week’s BBC QT: Litha “Spray Tan” Nandy’s (MP) “I represent the 40% who voted Remain in my constituency” – EUSSR placeman.

  11. Let’s not forget that the French, and the Dutch, voted against Lisbon by 45/55 majority, only to be told that their wish had been heard but that the “revised” version would be voted on by parliament as the latter was more predictable. The difference with the brits is that the referendum will be heeded.

    Freedom of movement with Europe was a great advance and to go back to having armies of retarded border farce assholes wasting your time at the border is not progress.

    It is indeed cheap to export products by road from the UK as trucks are often empty.

  12. As brexit shows, what the people think is largely academic compared to what the state thinks. I can’t imagine France is any different.

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