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The French love to hate Brexit We saw it as a personal insult

"AprĂšs le Brexit, le Bregret" Bertrand Guay/POOL/AFP/Getty Images

"AprĂšs le Brexit, le Bregret" Bertrand Guay/POOL/AFP/Getty Images


February 3, 2023   6 mins

Now that Boris Johnson is back to what he does best — writing and being usefully jovial in countries where he can’t run for PM — the Franco-British relationship is back on an even keel. Mutual respect has been restored between Emmanuel Macron and Rishi Sunak, the two 40-something technocrats in charge of our respective countries, those well-schooled, well-dressed former investment bankers, battling strikes, inflation, an economic slump, quiet and not-so-quiet quitting, social inequalities, and a dangerous international situation


Just kidding. What we French are mostly up to these days — when we’ve managed to jam ourselves onto a MĂ©tro train that’s neither on strike nor been literally de-platformed by the hapless Paris Region President ValĂ©rie PĂ©cresse’s recent cuts (or a bus replacing those provincial lines SNCF finds too expensive to run) — is bask in unholy glee over Bregret. “C’est la Gueule de bois!” (It’s the worst hangover!), the headlines popped after the latest UnHerd polling showed that more than half of Britons felt Brexit was a mistake. “L’Anniversaire morose” (Gloomy Brexitversary), they went; “Étrange Bregret” (That strange regret); “AprĂšs le Brexit, le Bregret” (After Brexit, Bregret — an elegant riff on the Comtesse de SĂ©gur classic books). On and on and on.

For the past seven years, I have been trying not so much to defend the Brexit vote, which I’ve always thought is a bit of an own goal, as to explain the issues of sovereignty involved. This has always gone down like un ballon en plomb here: after something like 50 of those debates, I am still considered a rabid Brexiteer, because Brexit, obviously, is such a mad decision in French eyes that even trying to explain it means you’ve gulped down the Kool Aid and begged for seconds.

Our own ambassador during the Brexit campaign, Sylvie Bermann, wrote a rather undiplomatic book about it called “Goodbye Britannia”, which was amusingly translated into English as “Au Revoir Britannia”. What her book mostly showed was that even when she invited the likes of Boris and the Spectator staff to Embassy dos, it was mostly as entertainment: her heart was firmly in N1 Remainer territory, the only ones quoted as “reliable sources”.

The National Assembly held dozens of committee meetings over Brexit, all coming to the same pre-ordained conclusion. The French Upper House, Le SĂ©nat, sent half a dozen official missions to the strange land of the Britons, tasked to understand La Catastrophe du Brexit: their invariable, self-reinforcing verdicts over the years were variations on the “Tous Perdants” (Everyone’s a loser) theme. To give an idea of the method favoured by the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Senator Jean Bizet for his 111-page 2019 report, the first subheading of which was “Un bilan perdant-perdant” (A Lose-Lose Balance Sheet), the only British stakeholder he and his small group managed to interview during their fact-finding trip to London was Remainer activist Gina Miller. She is quoted at length in four different places of the final document. (“She is so sympathique, and it was very difficult to get to meet the others”, Bizet told me in the green room of the parliamentary channel talk show where we discussed his report.)

Is this payback for decades of “Up Yours, Delors” and sundry other French-bashing British tabloid headlines over the years? Well, partly. But we’ve always been less conscious of Britain than you’ve been of France. Part of this is geography (ours is usually the country you first cross when venturing abroad), part of it is our universaliste doctrine as well as centuries of soft power when all of Europe wrote its correspondence and waged its diplomacy en Français. (Hence our fury when small dollops of English learned in our better schools are introduced into the public discourse. This has been one of Emmanuel Macron’s blunders: his fluent technocratese includes a lot of not-always-relevant English words that mostly underline his firm place on the bourgeois side of the class divide.)

There’s a lot of bad history between our two countries, which we enjoy bringing up at awkward moments. There’s also, genuinely, a canyon-deep gap when it comes to our respective notions of what sovereignty means. To us French, it refers to a barely veiled domination of French views, culture and influence far beyond our actual borders. There are French fingerprints all over the creation of the UN in 1945 (and before that the League of Nations in 1920); over the Bretton Woods System; the GATT and the WTO; and of course the Common Market. The official language of the international Postal Service is French. We have our own Commonwealth of sorts, l’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, with 88 full or associate member-states: any country with a significant number of French speakers is eligible, and many of them, not always the same one, account for French-supporting votes at the UN. We fork out €11 billion for culture out of the French Budget (where the UK spends about €700 million). A great deal of this has international political outreach.

We call this le rayonnement de la France, a phrase better translated into German (Ausstrahlung). It implies that French ideas radiate their beneficent influence over the rest of the world — or at least congenial parts of it, such as the EU — like the sun (or possibly a made-in-France nuclear device). This links the Sun King, Louis XIV, whose magnificence led to emulative budgetary sinkholes from Potsdam to Petersburg and Caserta to Schönbrunn; to Napoleon, who gave the Code Civil to grateful places as far apart as Louisiana, Nuremberg and Phnom Penh; to Charles de Gaulle’s heroic 1940 stance, and deeply annoying Sixties non-aligned posturing. To this day, being deemed of having somehow contribuĂ© au rayonnement de la France will get you a LĂ©gion d’Honneur, Officer class.

This also explains how Macron got away with all the EU flag-waving of his two victorious presidential campaigns. Heavily implied was “more leverage for France”, not “let’s be Europeans first and French second”. Whenever EU member states start pushing policies that Paris disapproves of, down comes the birch switch over their knuckles, sharply. In 2003, Jacques Chirac called Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania and Bulgaria “infantile” and “reckless” because they had dared to co-sign a letter in support of George W. Bush’s Iraq war. “As new members of a club, they’ve lost a good occasion to shut up.” Last September, reports that Poland was placing a $14 billion order for planes, tanks and cannons from South Korea, not France, led to a flurry of recriminations. Worse, the Poles, like the Germans, buy American! “La Pologne se passe de la France!” the moan-a-thon went.

That is why Brexit has felt so personal to the French. Having finally been admitted into the European Communities (EC) in 1973, after years of Le GĂ©nĂ©ral’s veto, you ought to have been humbly grateful for our generous gift. In fact, until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, or thereabouts, you seemed to be. Italy was a cheerful shambles. Germany was rich and barely squeaked in dissent about anything. We liked having you around, except when Margaret Thatcher, an early pro-EC campaigner, started handbagging Chirac over the British Rebate. (François Mitterrand, the “cohabitation” president at the time, who’d been at the receiving end of many of Chirac’s political volleys, was delighted. He said of Thatcher that she had “the eyes of Caligula and the mouth of Marilyn Monroe”. Coming from him, it was a great compliment. During the Falklands War, he had quietly sent her the schematics of the Exocet missiles France had sold to Argentina, after all.)

So how dare you want to leave and destroy the self-image we’d constructed for Europe as, well, a largely French-inspired paradise? We saw this as a personal insult. We felt we were being jilted for aventurisme, lies, and deeply suspect financial practices.

I happened to be in Brussels on the day of David Cameron’s fateful February 2016 visit, in which, depending on who tells the story, he never managed to get further concessions amending the Lisbon Treaty to prevent Brexit from European council president Donald Tusk (the British version), or “He got absolutely everything! It was highway robbery! And still the bloody Brits wanted more!”, which was the version several incandescent German and French bureaucrats told me moments after Cameron had boarded his flight back to RAF Northolt. The relationship never improved with time, with EU negotiator Michel Barnier’s office leaking at every stage how dissatisfied they were with the unpreparedness of the British negotiating party. It was obvious that the dispute was bitter, and touched on something quasi-religious.

And so the latest polls have, in one word, delighted the French. Try to recall the bitterest Remainer arguments: the “lies”, the “fake figures” on the flank of That Bus; Boris at his most shambolic; every fishing skiff in the Channel Island being threatened, in a kind of reverse Dunkirk operation, by flotillas of French marins-pĂȘcheurs; the long and disheartening queues at Border Control in airports and Eurostar stations; the ridiculous postal delays and customs levies on mail between France and Britain. None of these are bugs; they’re all features in the Sacred Mission to make the British miserable over Brexit. (Macron’s previous PM Jean Castex said as much in an open letter to Ursula von der Leyen in October 2021: “It must be made obvious that it is more painful to leave the EU than to remain within it,” he concluded.)

Would France one day make a British return to Brussels easy? I fear our attitude is of that of a more inflexible religious order. Sinners must experience purgatory. It wouldn’t be fun, and it’s the best you can expect from us.


Anne-Elisabeth Moutet is a Paris-based journalist and political commentator.

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J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

A very well written and amusing article made more impressive by the fact the author’s first language is French not English (I took French through high school, even passed my exams, and promptly forgot it all).
I suppose the Unherd poll triggered the talk of Brexit this week. Isn’t it time to move on, dear Europeans? Aren’t there bigger things afoot in the world today? What’s that you say? Oh, it’s easier to rehash Brexit than tackle current problems. Yup. Got it.

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Bigger things afoot in the world than perfidious Albion finally seeing the error of its ways (apparently, if you don’t look too closely at the data) in having been rude to la belle France? Incroyable!

rob drummond
rob drummond
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom Watson

UK ”rude to la belle France” you say – and what about that clown Hollande to UK? – Please, do think of soemthing more intelligent to say – you sound like a 5 year old in a play-ground tiff.

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  rob drummond

And you can’t spell ‘something.’ Or detect sarcasm from the sort of range at which even my blind grandma could hit a barn door. With her fists.

rob drummond
rob drummond
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom Watson

I am severely dyslexic. Please stick to the point I made and stop mocking a problem I have with reading and writing.

I do my best and my opinion is as valid as anyones. You should be ashamed. (But I dont suppose you are)

Shame on the people that gave you a thumbs up. I dont believe you ever saw your grandparent even trying to hit a barn door.

Thank you.

Last edited 1 year ago by rob drummond
rob drummond
rob drummond
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom Watson

I am severely dyslexic. Please stick to the point I made and stop mocking a problem I have with reading and writing.

I do my best and my opinion is as valid as anyones. You should be ashamed. (But I dont suppose you are)

Shame on the people that gave you a thumbs up. I dont believe you ever saw your grandparent even trying to hit a barn door.

Thank you.

Last edited 1 year ago by rob drummond
Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago
Reply to  rob drummond

You really need to grow a healthy sense of humour. Mrs Mouttet with her usual talent is taking the Mickey out of us
..French !!
The very vast majority of French people do not give a hoot about Brexit, if only to see that the Brits, according to the press, have it a lot worst than them.
All of what Mrs Mouttet says is true
..our Parisian subway is a disgrace, our regional trains are replaced by busses and our health services in bad shape


On the French media part this is Schadenfreunde at its best. Not to worry or get that upset. This being said, I don’t think Brexit solved the core issue of immigration, have a look at Boston
..and the boats crossing the channel in droves
.but that’s another story because on this subject, we are not one bit doing better.

rob drummond
rob drummond
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruno Lucy

And the overwhelming majority of UK does not give a hoot about France. In fact quite the opposite.

Since when has France been famous for a sense of humour? Arh yea. Only when Napoleon thought Waterloo – Trafalgar and Russia was a great idea.

rob drummond
rob drummond
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruno Lucy

On the other hand its quite understood that so many people want to flee The EU to England.

rob drummond
rob drummond
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruno Lucy

And the overwhelming majority of UK does not give a hoot about France. In fact quite the opposite.

Since when has France been famous for a sense of humour? Arh yea. Only when Napoleon thought Waterloo – Trafalgar and Russia was a great idea.

rob drummond
rob drummond
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruno Lucy

On the other hand its quite understood that so many people want to flee The EU to England.

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  rob drummond

And you can’t spell ‘something.’ Or detect sarcasm from the sort of range at which even my blind grandma could hit a barn door. With her fists.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago
Reply to  rob drummond

You really need to grow a healthy sense of humour. Mrs Mouttet with her usual talent is taking the Mickey out of us
..French !!
The very vast majority of French people do not give a hoot about Brexit, if only to see that the Brits, according to the press, have it a lot worst than them.
All of what Mrs Mouttet says is true
..our Parisian subway is a disgrace, our regional trains are replaced by busses and our health services in bad shape


On the French media part this is Schadenfreunde at its best. Not to worry or get that upset. This being said, I don’t think Brexit solved the core issue of immigration, have a look at Boston
..and the boats crossing the channel in droves
.but that’s another story because on this subject, we are not one bit doing better.

rob drummond
rob drummond
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom Watson

UK ”rude to la belle France” you say – and what about that clown Hollande to UK? – Please, do think of soemthing more intelligent to say – you sound like a 5 year old in a play-ground tiff.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

No. There’s nothing new or particularly insightful here. She still doesn’t really understand why Brexit happened. I’ve yet to hear from any French person who does.

Andy Moore
Andy Moore
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

I’ve yet to hear from any remainer who does, I believe it’s one of the main reasons why they lost the vote.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy Moore

There is a big difference between having some understanding why a majority voted for it, and agreeing that it was the best decision. Don’t mix the two issues up. They are different debating points.
That said it’s seems self evident that many Brexiteers struggle to reconcile the different reasons folks voted Leave – the Red wall vs Small state dichotomy being an obvious contradiction they are struggling to square.
Clearly folks voted Leave for different reasons. IMO the biggest being immigration concern, followed by a sense we were paying more than we got back. Nuances about how Single Market trading rules worked were lost on most on all sides.

Michael Davis
Michael Davis
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

We left to avoid becoming a state in a United Europe
This was never proposed or accepted by any vote of the British people despite promises by Tony Blair
Some things money can’t buy, sovereignty being one of them
Now we need to get rid of Blair’s blob to restore self government

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael Davis

In your opinion that was the main driver and you are entitled to that view. Many though would suggest that wasn’t the thing that tipped it.
Still banging on about Blair 16yrs after he left office always seems a bit silly. Tories been in power for last 13 years.

Andy Moore
Andy Moore
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Margaret Thatcher left office around 30 years ago, yet plenty on the left still blame her.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy Moore

The irony of course is she helped construct the Single Market and a huge advocate. I reckon, but can’t prove obviously, she’d have got relaxed with a pragmatic Norway type arrangement with ‘consultation’ rights on new SM rules. She was more pragmatic on many occasions than the mythology often suggests.

Andy Moore
Andy Moore
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

We will never know her thoughts on the current set up of the SM, however I suspect she would be against outsourcing the UKs global trade policy to a 3rd party.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

I think a reading of her Bruges speech should clear things up about what she thought and how she saw the EU from what she viewed as the correct path for the UK. Her opinion in 1988 (when she was also free as the PM to say whatever she liked) is probably a better guide than he opinion in 1973. Certainly, few commentators at the time took her Bruges speech to be anything other than firmly Eurosceptic. Were they mistaken ?

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Yes, she advocated the SM, and I understand that, but if the UK had remained within the SM in 2020, it would have been in the stupid situation of having its trade rules decided by others, and who can doubt but that the EC would have thoroughly screwed us, just have they have always done since 1973, despite or because of our representatives?
I expect some would then say that we should have remained in the EU so as to stay within the SM; for me, that would have been too high a price, besides which, I fully expected that we would negotiate a trading relationship better, rather than worse, that which the EU has with other major markets, helped by the adverse balance of trade we have with it. I hadn’t reckoned with the ghastly Mrs May, the equally awful ‘Conservatives’ like Soubry (ugh, I try not to think of past nightmares), and the Lords, who were also prepared to thwart the referendum result.

Last edited 1 year ago by Colin Elliott
j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

It would certainly have been interesting to see what she made of it. I suspect we’d have never had the referendum and she’d have brow-beaten EU partners into further exemptions first. But all academic isn’t it even if intriguing to speculate.
Staying in SM but just with consultation rights would clearly have annoyed many. It works of course for Norway/Swiss et al, and it’s just trading market rules not everything that one decides upon when running a Nation. As it we’ve stayed in v close alignment and TCA committed us to ‘level playing field’ (albeit no doubt interpretation will be a contestable point). But we’d have left and any economic downside mitigated. EU would not be getting billions in contributions. We wouldn’t have a NI issue at all. We could have then applied all the Article rules available to control EU immigration – jobs advertised locally first, minimum capital requirements etc. And we could have clamped right down on non-EU immigration which was always on a par possibly with ID cards and a proper naturalisation process to help where we did make it permissible. Not to be, but how I’d have done Brexit.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

It would certainly have been interesting to see what she made of it. I suspect we’d have never had the referendum and she’d have brow-beaten EU partners into further exemptions first. But all academic isn’t it even if intriguing to speculate.
Staying in SM but just with consultation rights would clearly have annoyed many. It works of course for Norway/Swiss et al, and it’s just trading market rules not everything that one decides upon when running a Nation. As it we’ve stayed in v close alignment and TCA committed us to ‘level playing field’ (albeit no doubt interpretation will be a contestable point). But we’d have left and any economic downside mitigated. EU would not be getting billions in contributions. We wouldn’t have a NI issue at all. We could have then applied all the Article rules available to control EU immigration – jobs advertised locally first, minimum capital requirements etc. And we could have clamped right down on non-EU immigration which was always on a par possibly with ID cards and a proper naturalisation process to help where we did make it permissible. Not to be, but how I’d have done Brexit.

Andy Moore
Andy Moore
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

We will never know her thoughts on the current set up of the SM, however I suspect she would be against outsourcing the UKs global trade policy to a 3rd party.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

I think a reading of her Bruges speech should clear things up about what she thought and how she saw the EU from what she viewed as the correct path for the UK. Her opinion in 1988 (when she was also free as the PM to say whatever she liked) is probably a better guide than he opinion in 1973. Certainly, few commentators at the time took her Bruges speech to be anything other than firmly Eurosceptic. Were they mistaken ?

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Yes, she advocated the SM, and I understand that, but if the UK had remained within the SM in 2020, it would have been in the stupid situation of having its trade rules decided by others, and who can doubt but that the EC would have thoroughly screwed us, just have they have always done since 1973, despite or because of our representatives?
I expect some would then say that we should have remained in the EU so as to stay within the SM; for me, that would have been too high a price, besides which, I fully expected that we would negotiate a trading relationship better, rather than worse, that which the EU has with other major markets, helped by the adverse balance of trade we have with it. I hadn’t reckoned with the ghastly Mrs May, the equally awful ‘Conservatives’ like Soubry (ugh, I try not to think of past nightmares), and the Lords, who were also prepared to thwart the referendum result.

Last edited 1 year ago by Colin Elliott
j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy Moore

The irony of course is she helped construct the Single Market and a huge advocate. I reckon, but can’t prove obviously, she’d have got relaxed with a pragmatic Norway type arrangement with ‘consultation’ rights on new SM rules. She was more pragmatic on many occasions than the mythology often suggests.

Andy Moore
Andy Moore
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Margaret Thatcher left office around 30 years ago, yet plenty on the left still blame her.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael Davis

In your opinion that was the main driver and you are entitled to that view. Many though would suggest that wasn’t the thing that tipped it.
Still banging on about Blair 16yrs after he left office always seems a bit silly. Tories been in power for last 13 years.

David Giles
David Giles
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

“Clearly folks voted Leave for different reasons.”

Obvious really, but the first time seen anyone, at all put it in print. My complements.

Leigh Collier
Leigh Collier
1 year ago
Reply to  David Giles

“. . . compliments.” Different spelling, different meaning.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
1 year ago
Reply to  David Giles

Did not folks vote Remain for different reasons? The reasons of the many I know who voted that way were (a) it would affect their business, (b) they liked easy travel, work and benefits in the EU, (c) they thought it was virtuous to be a member, (d) they believed Osbourne, the Treasury and many others that there would be an immediate recession, (e) it’s essential to be in a very large trading block, (f) they had relatives in the EU and didn’t like the idea that a schism was about to happen, (g) we’d lose influence in the world, and I’m sure there are others.

Leigh Collier
Leigh Collier
1 year ago
Reply to  David Giles

“. . . compliments.” Different spelling, different meaning.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
1 year ago
Reply to  David Giles

Did not folks vote Remain for different reasons? The reasons of the many I know who voted that way were (a) it would affect their business, (b) they liked easy travel, work and benefits in the EU, (c) they thought it was virtuous to be a member, (d) they believed Osbourne, the Treasury and many others that there would be an immediate recession, (e) it’s essential to be in a very large trading block, (f) they had relatives in the EU and didn’t like the idea that a schism was about to happen, (g) we’d lose influence in the world, and I’m sure there are others.

Leigh Collier
Leigh Collier
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Clearly folks did vote Leave for different reasons. The two reasons mentioned, though true and relevant, were not my chief reasons for being (both then and now) a convinced Leaver. For me the decisive and all-important factors were identity and self-respect. I voted leave because I didn’t want our British identity to be lost by being merged into a superstate, and I did want to maintain the self-respect that comes from being perfectly capable of governing ourselves and making our own decision.

I’ve never yet met a Remainer who understood this kind of thinking.

Last edited 1 year ago by Leigh Collier
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Leigh Collier

I, for one, do understand it. To some extent I even share it. It is just that being free to make your own decisions is not worth as much as you would think where you are not strong enough to actually get what you want. In many areas Britain can probably get *more* of what she wants by making deals inside the EU than by going up against the EU, US, China, Amazon etc. on her lonesome. And my respect for people who want to keep their self-respect quickly drops to zero if they are not willing to own up to the cost, but prefer to pretend that their choices do not have consequences.

Phil Rees
Phil Rees
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

This is an excellent response and is the first time I have felt the slightest twinge of Leaver regret. Voted Leave because I resent not having a democratic vote I can exercise if those in power let me down. But I do increasingly feel that while I now have that vote, a fat lot of good it is when both parties look so alike and its increasingly clear that the vote which ‘sovereignty’ gave me isn’t worth a fig.

Tony Day
Tony Day
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

I feel the same. but live in hope!. Today I might just vote to rejoin but only if abolishing Westminster was pert of the deal 🙂

Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

When you cast your vote, did you imagine for one moment that the current occupants of Parliament were the right people to lead an independent UK? It could take a generation to get back the talents, vision and qualities a top-ten player on the world stage requires, or that a population of almost 70 million deserves. Regaining our sovereignty is a necessary, but not a sufficient first step.

Tony Day
Tony Day
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

I feel the same. but live in hope!. Today I might just vote to rejoin but only if abolishing Westminster was pert of the deal 🙂

Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

When you cast your vote, did you imagine for one moment that the current occupants of Parliament were the right people to lead an independent UK? It could take a generation to get back the talents, vision and qualities a top-ten player on the world stage requires, or that a population of almost 70 million deserves. Regaining our sovereignty is a necessary, but not a sufficient first step.

Phil Rees
Phil Rees
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

This is an excellent response and is the first time I have felt the slightest twinge of Leaver regret. Voted Leave because I resent not having a democratic vote I can exercise if those in power let me down. But I do increasingly feel that while I now have that vote, a fat lot of good it is when both parties look so alike and its increasingly clear that the vote which ‘sovereignty’ gave me isn’t worth a fig.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Leigh Collier

I, for one, do understand it. To some extent I even share it. It is just that being free to make your own decisions is not worth as much as you would think where you are not strong enough to actually get what you want. In many areas Britain can probably get *more* of what she wants by making deals inside the EU than by going up against the EU, US, China, Amazon etc. on her lonesome. And my respect for people who want to keep their self-respect quickly drops to zero if they are not willing to own up to the cost, but prefer to pretend that their choices do not have consequences.

Ben P
Ben P
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Maybe also the wish to govern ourselves and not to have to refer everything back to Brussels.

Michael Davis
Michael Davis
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

We left to avoid becoming a state in a United Europe
This was never proposed or accepted by any vote of the British people despite promises by Tony Blair
Some things money can’t buy, sovereignty being one of them
Now we need to get rid of Blair’s blob to restore self government

David Giles
David Giles
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

“Clearly folks voted Leave for different reasons.”

Obvious really, but the first time seen anyone, at all put it in print. My complements.

Leigh Collier
Leigh Collier
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Clearly folks did vote Leave for different reasons. The two reasons mentioned, though true and relevant, were not my chief reasons for being (both then and now) a convinced Leaver. For me the decisive and all-important factors were identity and self-respect. I voted leave because I didn’t want our British identity to be lost by being merged into a superstate, and I did want to maintain the self-respect that comes from being perfectly capable of governing ourselves and making our own decision.

I’ve never yet met a Remainer who understood this kind of thinking.

Last edited 1 year ago by Leigh Collier
Ben P
Ben P
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Maybe also the wish to govern ourselves and not to have to refer everything back to Brussels.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy Moore

Indeed. The glee with which they still fall on the regular academic studies claiming Brexit has caused (frankly, quite mild) economic damage proves it.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy Moore

There is a big difference between having some understanding why a majority voted for it, and agreeing that it was the best decision. Don’t mix the two issues up. They are different debating points.
That said it’s seems self evident that many Brexiteers struggle to reconcile the different reasons folks voted Leave – the Red wall vs Small state dichotomy being an obvious contradiction they are struggling to square.
Clearly folks voted Leave for different reasons. IMO the biggest being immigration concern, followed by a sense we were paying more than we got back. Nuances about how Single Market trading rules worked were lost on most on all sides.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy Moore

Indeed. The glee with which they still fall on the regular academic studies claiming Brexit has caused (frankly, quite mild) economic damage proves it.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

I think the opening suggests she does get it – but most of the French elite don’t and never will.
BTW – the wider French population are far more in line with the English population than the French elites.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

I remember reading an opinion poll of French voters sometime before the referendum and this indicated that the French were more anti-EU than the British.
https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2016/06/07/euroskepticism-beyond-brexit/

j watson
j watson
1 year ago

Hmm, they voted for Macron twice.
Of course pretty standard folks want to find someone/something to blame and will express that. But thus far they rejected following a similar path to us as evidenced by Macron being in the Elysee Palace.

Last edited 1 year ago by j watson
Chris Hume
Chris Hume
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

That may have more to do with the alternative being Le Pen who is beyond the pale for most French voters. In a choice between the EU status quo with Macron and a Frexit with Le Pen, the voters chose the slightly more palatable option.
That’s not to say the French are necessarily anti-EU, but that election was far from a referendum on the issue.

Richard Abbot
Richard Abbot
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

The votes were against Le Pen. Macron just happened to be the beneficiary.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Abbot

It does seem to be a fact though that there are v few far Right, or just Right wing parties in EU countries pushing for a form of Brexit. Le Pen wasn’t actually pushing Frexit. Meloni hasn’t pushed Italexit. Czechs just voted, by some margin, for a moderate etc. Orban resistant to some things but not proposing to Leave. Etc etc
Annoyance with the EU is not quite the same as wanting to withdraw. If anything that’s because they’ve seen what it’s done to us. So the irony is our Brexit has pulled Europe more together not apart. That’s telling us something.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Abbot

It does seem to be a fact though that there are v few far Right, or just Right wing parties in EU countries pushing for a form of Brexit. Le Pen wasn’t actually pushing Frexit. Meloni hasn’t pushed Italexit. Czechs just voted, by some margin, for a moderate etc. Orban resistant to some things but not proposing to Leave. Etc etc
Annoyance with the EU is not quite the same as wanting to withdraw. If anything that’s because they’ve seen what it’s done to us. So the irony is our Brexit has pulled Europe more together not apart. That’s telling us something.

Chris Hume
Chris Hume
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

That may have more to do with the alternative being Le Pen who is beyond the pale for most French voters. In a choice between the EU status quo with Macron and a Frexit with Le Pen, the voters chose the slightly more palatable option.
That’s not to say the French are necessarily anti-EU, but that election was far from a referendum on the issue.

Richard Abbot
Richard Abbot
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

The votes were against Le Pen. Macron just happened to be the beneficiary.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago

Hmm, they voted for Macron twice.
Of course pretty standard folks want to find someone/something to blame and will express that. But thus far they rejected following a similar path to us as evidenced by Macron being in the Elysee Palace.

Last edited 1 year ago by j watson
Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Quite.
The headline suggests that “The French love to hate Brexit”, whereas, as you suggest, the truth is that the elite hate that many of the French would love Frexit

Andrew Buckley
Andrew Buckley
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Certainly my experience in Normandy and Brittany in July 2016. Everyone who mentioned the referendum was saying either well done or wish we could have one.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

And these poor souls had not the faintest idea of what they were talking about.
France currency was worth toilet paper and seing the state of its industry

we would be like a third world country.
The Germans sold their soul to Putin for cheap energy safe guarding their industry. Putin 

forced them to abandon nuclear energy manipulating the the greens and the French sucked up the Germans to get a respectful currency.
Just a bloody mess. Still

Frexit would be a catastrophe that I could easily escape by changing country. The people you are talking about would have no other choice but to live with their decision

.anywhere as opposed to nowhere.
Mhmmmmmm

this somehow sounds familiar

it’ll come back to me.
By the by
..there is no other place I feel safe queuing up than in the UK.
The Brits invented queuing up
..the French jumping it
.and that’s the reason I’ll always miss the Uk being part of the EU



Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

And these poor souls had not the faintest idea of what they were talking about.
France currency was worth toilet paper and seing the state of its industry

we would be like a third world country.
The Germans sold their soul to Putin for cheap energy safe guarding their industry. Putin 

forced them to abandon nuclear energy manipulating the the greens and the French sucked up the Germans to get a respectful currency.
Just a bloody mess. Still

Frexit would be a catastrophe that I could easily escape by changing country. The people you are talking about would have no other choice but to live with their decision

.anywhere as opposed to nowhere.
Mhmmmmmm

this somehow sounds familiar

it’ll come back to me.
By the by
..there is no other place I feel safe queuing up than in the UK.
The Brits invented queuing up
..the French jumping it
.and that’s the reason I’ll always miss the Uk being part of the EU



Andrew Buckley
Andrew Buckley
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Certainly my experience in Normandy and Brittany in July 2016. Everyone who mentioned the referendum was saying either well done or wish we could have one.

Rob N
Rob N
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

And put another way. The French and British elites are not only in agreement but also cahoots.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Surely most of the British elite don’t get it either.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

I remember reading an opinion poll of French voters sometime before the referendum and this indicated that the French were more anti-EU than the British.
https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2016/06/07/euroskepticism-beyond-brexit/

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Quite.
The headline suggests that “The French love to hate Brexit”, whereas, as you suggest, the truth is that the elite hate that many of the French would love Frexit

Rob N
Rob N
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

And put another way. The French and British elites are not only in agreement but also cahoots.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Surely most of the British elite don’t get it either.

Anne-Elisabeth Moutet
Anne-Elisabeth Moutet
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

The piece wasn’t meant to explain my own understanding of Brexit, but I did mention “issues of sovereignty”, which incidentally I essentially agree with. But as a Frenchwoman, I’ve always felt that a large country like Britain or, say, France, has many options for getting its own way in Brussels. The problem is that you Brits are more respectful than us of (most) rules….

Last edited 1 year ago by Anne-Elisabeth Moutet
Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

Merci. Ca merite du respect quand l’auteur ecrit une reponse, ce qui n’arrive presque jamais ici.
Et j’etais carrement paresseusse de faire une telle erreur.
En depit de tous que j’ai ecrit ici, je vous jure que je garde une grande admiration pour la France apres avoir vecu deux ans pres de Vence.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago

Dear Mrs Moutet
it is always a pleasure to listen to you and read you. Your analysis on everything that regards our feuding cousins on the other side of the channel are always worth taking on board.
You are right, big countries like France and the UK have ways to get what they want in Brussels

.but ironically, it is always the British who come up as the cheaters in public opinion, of course relayed by médias.
Boris Johnson certainly didn’t do the country’s reputation any favour when it comes to Brexit. He turned the issue into a very irritating circus that could only win French public opinion in making Brexit punishing for the UK.
But, Brussels or no Brussels

I still think Brexit hasn’t delivered anything but Whitehall red tape under all the Sir Humphrey Appleby who loom there and unwanted and unregulated immigration

Both were at the root of Brexit.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

Merci. Ca merite du respect quand l’auteur ecrit une reponse, ce qui n’arrive presque jamais ici.
Et j’etais carrement paresseusse de faire une telle erreur.
En depit de tous que j’ai ecrit ici, je vous jure que je garde une grande admiration pour la France apres avoir vecu deux ans pres de Vence.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago

Dear Mrs Moutet
it is always a pleasure to listen to you and read you. Your analysis on everything that regards our feuding cousins on the other side of the channel are always worth taking on board.
You are right, big countries like France and the UK have ways to get what they want in Brussels

.but ironically, it is always the British who come up as the cheaters in public opinion, of course relayed by médias.
Boris Johnson certainly didn’t do the country’s reputation any favour when it comes to Brexit. He turned the issue into a very irritating circus that could only win French public opinion in making Brexit punishing for the UK.
But, Brussels or no Brussels

I still think Brexit hasn’t delivered anything but Whitehall red tape under all the Sir Humphrey Appleby who loom there and unwanted and unregulated immigration

Both were at the root of Brexit.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Brexit happened because on that Sunday of 2016, scores of young Londoners didn’t bother to get out of bed while in Swansea they were queuing up for their day in history.
Who do you think you are kidding ? This referendum was a cliff hanger and it could have easily gone either way had these kids bothered
Ann then the best bit 

how many Brexiter went for a European passport to keep gallivanting around Europe ?
If that’s no double standard
..then what is !!

Last edited 1 year ago by Bruno Lucy
Richard Abbot
Richard Abbot
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruno Lucy

Thursday. A day that I will never forget.

Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruno Lucy

Go on, then: how many? Another Remainer fantasy – but they don’t count, do they? Only ‘Brexiters’ can be guilty of dishonesty, double standard or woolly thinking.

Richard Abbot
Richard Abbot
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruno Lucy

Thursday. A day that I will never forget.

Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruno Lucy

Go on, then: how many? Another Remainer fantasy – but they don’t count, do they? Only ‘Brexiters’ can be guilty of dishonesty, double standard or woolly thinking.

rob drummond
rob drummond
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Thumbs up Peter B

Andy Moore
Andy Moore
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

I’ve yet to hear from any remainer who does, I believe it’s one of the main reasons why they lost the vote.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

I think the opening suggests she does get it – but most of the French elite don’t and never will.
BTW – the wider French population are far more in line with the English population than the French elites.

Anne-Elisabeth Moutet
Anne-Elisabeth Moutet
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

The piece wasn’t meant to explain my own understanding of Brexit, but I did mention “issues of sovereignty”, which incidentally I essentially agree with. But as a Frenchwoman, I’ve always felt that a large country like Britain or, say, France, has many options for getting its own way in Brussels. The problem is that you Brits are more respectful than us of (most) rules….

Last edited 1 year ago by Anne-Elisabeth Moutet
Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Brexit happened because on that Sunday of 2016, scores of young Londoners didn’t bother to get out of bed while in Swansea they were queuing up for their day in history.
Who do you think you are kidding ? This referendum was a cliff hanger and it could have easily gone either way had these kids bothered
Ann then the best bit 

how many Brexiter went for a European passport to keep gallivanting around Europe ?
If that’s no double standard
..then what is !!

Last edited 1 year ago by Bruno Lucy
rob drummond
rob drummond
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Thumbs up Peter B

Curts
Curts
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Strangely the uk cabinet seems to have so many scandals which surprise, surprise seems to empty the cabinet of pro-brexit types
Strangely the country seems to have polls pushing proEU sentiment with a sprinkling of so very reasonable EU types saying the door is always open
Strangely the pro EU media is full of brexit scepticism and how bad it is rather than the usual drip drip of it
You don’t think it would be a coordinated thing by any chance? The fat cats are pushing hard from their metropolitan enclaves to make sure we go back to “business as usual “ before all this. The deep rooted malaise from an elite who long ago ran out of ideas and integrity are back and making the mistake of asking the proletariat what their opinion is will never be repeated. Everything on this side of the channel is deplorable and everything on the other side is a shining beacon of integrity. Really?
The ruling class metropolitans haven’t changed, here or there, and the EU DEFINITELY hasn’t changed, So the reasons why we left haven’t changed. in fact the behaviour of both over the Covid years shows neither have learned anything and definitely not humility
It was a divorce with unreasonable behaviour as it’s core cause. Would you go back after the divorce is done and expect the other party to behave differently? The clinical definition of psychotic behaviour “to repeat a behaviour over again even though you know each time it will end in failure”. People were tired of EU behaviour before brexit but much of the reactionary vote, leave, is the ruling class here and in the EU are cut of the same clothe. The blob strains not to do anything against their brothers across the water and so it’s dead in the water. Rishi and his banker set are the final nail in that coffin. Not a rant just a reality sadly

Last edited 1 year ago by Curts
Tom Watson
Tom Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Bigger things afoot in the world than perfidious Albion finally seeing the error of its ways (apparently, if you don’t look too closely at the data) in having been rude to la belle France? Incroyable!

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

No. There’s nothing new or particularly insightful here. She still doesn’t really understand why Brexit happened. I’ve yet to hear from any French person who does.

Curts
Curts
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Strangely the uk cabinet seems to have so many scandals which surprise, surprise seems to empty the cabinet of pro-brexit types
Strangely the country seems to have polls pushing proEU sentiment with a sprinkling of so very reasonable EU types saying the door is always open
Strangely the pro EU media is full of brexit scepticism and how bad it is rather than the usual drip drip of it
You don’t think it would be a coordinated thing by any chance? The fat cats are pushing hard from their metropolitan enclaves to make sure we go back to “business as usual “ before all this. The deep rooted malaise from an elite who long ago ran out of ideas and integrity are back and making the mistake of asking the proletariat what their opinion is will never be repeated. Everything on this side of the channel is deplorable and everything on the other side is a shining beacon of integrity. Really?
The ruling class metropolitans haven’t changed, here or there, and the EU DEFINITELY hasn’t changed, So the reasons why we left haven’t changed. in fact the behaviour of both over the Covid years shows neither have learned anything and definitely not humility
It was a divorce with unreasonable behaviour as it’s core cause. Would you go back after the divorce is done and expect the other party to behave differently? The clinical definition of psychotic behaviour “to repeat a behaviour over again even though you know each time it will end in failure”. People were tired of EU behaviour before brexit but much of the reactionary vote, leave, is the ruling class here and in the EU are cut of the same clothe. The blob strains not to do anything against their brothers across the water and so it’s dead in the water. Rishi and his banker set are the final nail in that coffin. Not a rant just a reality sadly

Last edited 1 year ago by Curts
J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

A very well written and amusing article made more impressive by the fact the author’s first language is French not English (I took French through high school, even passed my exams, and promptly forgot it all).
I suppose the Unherd poll triggered the talk of Brexit this week. Isn’t it time to move on, dear Europeans? Aren’t there bigger things afoot in the world today? What’s that you say? Oh, it’s easier to rehash Brexit than tackle current problems. Yup. Got it.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago

Non, Je ne Bregret rien.
You make an amusing – and reasonably plausible – case, but your argument only works among heartbroken Remainers here, and what I imagine is your circle of bien pensant compatriots.
What could be a more telling indictment of the “European Project” than to witness the extraordinary volte face of M Barnier, as he tried to run for office in France?
Mr Europe – The man for whom the 4 Freedoms were indivisible and entirely sacrosanct. The man who refused to accept the idea that the EU could or should ever give an inch. For whom ECJ edicts were as unchallengeable as the word of God.
All well and good whilst he sat cocooned in his Ivory Tower at the Berlaymont, part of the technocratic priesthood dictating doctrine, safe from the inconvenience of ever having to achieve a popular mandate.
But then, suddenly, channelling his inner Farage, and taking the line that â€œWe must regain our legal sovereignty so that we are no longer subject to the rulings of the European Court of Justice or the European Court of Human Rights.”
Isn’t it illuminating that even the most staunch defender of the EU has to turn against the institutions and point out their obvious faults if he wants to appeal to an actual voter?
Of course the concerns of the citizenry have never been allowed to stand in the way of the broader EU ambitions, but domestically different rules apply – you actually have to win voters over.
Sovereignty was – and is – a real issue. Though our take on what it means rather differs from the French- and has done for centuries.
I was always rather confused as to why, in all the interminable deliberations and discussions over Brexit, so few journalists referenced the Common Law.
I think it is quite a large part of why the British have always had a very different take on the various incarnations of the EU than most European nations – that, and the fact that we haven’t been conquered and ruled by a hostile power for nearly 1000 years. (Though we almost managed to let our “leaders” achieve the same by simply gifting dominion to Brussels without ever gaining the consent of those they sought to govern)
I read an article a while ago (in a rival publication) that talked warmly of the EU “allowing” its citizens freedoms – I thought that rather telling.
The great difference between our Common Law system and the legal systems adopted by most other European countries is encapsulated in what we have by right – as opposed to what they are “allowed”.
The British (and Commonwealth citizens, who adopted our system) have the good fortune to enjoy a Common Law heritage – a very different inheritance to their European counterparts.
France’s judicial system is based on the Napoleonic code of 1804, which is in turn based on the Roman system of law. This was copied by a great many European states and forms the backbone of the ECJ’s understanding of legal frameworks.
The British system is based on Law established by court decisions rather than by statutes enacted by legislatures.
The difference between them has been rather simplistically characterised as:
In Britain anything is allowed unless specifically proscribed.
In France nothing is allowed unless specifically permitted.
It is a wholly different mindset and, although rarely mentioned in all these debates, is the foundation, I would suggest, to a lot of why we have always viewed supranational government differently from other European countries.

 

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Very astute comment.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Common Law versus Civil Law IS the crucial argument as you so rightly say. Sadly even the great Lord Jonathan Sumption, KS, missed that one.

Incidentally we were “conquered “ in 1688 when a Dutch homosexual at the head of an army of foreign mercenaries landed in Torbay and overthrew our (albeit worthless) God”s anointed Monarch, the hapless James II.

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
1 year ago

… by invitation. And that particular dynasty had had a very short and unhappy flirtation with ruling the whole of Britain, and not just the Scottish bit. Also, there wasn’t much ‘overthrowing’ to do, more a bit of marching about while the ‘worthless anointed Monarch’ got himself and his cronies safely away. To France.

Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
1 year ago

… by invitation. And that particular dynasty had had a very short and unhappy flirtation with ruling the whole of Britain, and not just the Scottish bit. Also, there wasn’t much ‘overthrowing’ to do, more a bit of marching about while the ‘worthless anointed Monarch’ got himself and his cronies safely away. To France.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Interesting and some good academic stuff on the differences in legal principles. Nonetheless both countries much more similar and freer than likes of Xi’s China so caution on the ‘narcissism of small differences’.
None of this though is why the public voted for Brexit. Well maybe a tiny number for whom this is their thing, but immigration, enhanced affluence and promises of reinvested sums in the NHS etc were why we voted Leave. And on those it’ll be judged by the vast majority of the public. Arcane discussions on whether we are now free to have as many E numbers in our prawn cocktail crisps as we like are lost on vast majority.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

But I really don’t think this is an “arcane discussion”.
I’d agree with you that few people stop to consider the Common Law and its precepts, in the particular – or even the abstract, but I firmly believe there is a sense of freedom under the Law that is hard-wired into every Briton in a manner quite distinct from other nationalities. I would contend that the reason for that, whether people stop to consider it or not, is our Common Law heritage.
As a country we’ve long taken pride in our democratic tradition. Even those on the political Left, who recoil from most of British history, have always wanted to associate themselves with the struggles of the British people to achieve a voice, to have a say – however small – in shaping our national destiny.
Before most other countries in Europe, we created a system of Popular sovereignty, the idea that people should have a say in how they are governed – and by whom.
Brexit was the latest in a long line of occasions when the people of these isles stood up to those in power and asserted and fought for their rights.
Historically, the demands of all the various rebellions and movements against entrenched privilege and power in this country have essentially been the same, namely that if we are expected to live by the laws of the land then we should have a say in who makes those laws – with the obvious corollary that if we have no capacity to influence who makes the laws, then we will break the law.
The Peasants Revolt, the English Civil War, the Chartists, the Suffragettes, the demands have all been the same – the right to have a say in our national destiny. The right to have a vote and, since achieving universal suffrage, that each vote should count the same whether cast by duke or dustman, young or old, male or female.
We fought for those rights. We hold those rights dear. They are rights that everyone, regardless of where they sit on the political spectrum, claims to hold dear. Even those who might not stop to consider those rights in the abstract, still have a sense that democratic sovereignty and the common law are the birthright of every Briton, thanks to those who came before us and fought to gain those rights.
Our membership of what the EU had become was denying the British people their democratic say, and we rebelled against it. For a good many years after the 1975 vote, there was general acceptance of our place in the EEC and its other incarnations. Of course I can’t speak for all 17.4 million Leave voters (nor the countless millions of Eurosceptics across the EU) but I would hazard that a very large number of them would agree that the Common Market had made sense. A group of entirely sovereign European nations agreeing to cooperate on trade. Had we remained simply as that there would have been a willingness – even enthusiasm – for the project.
Since Maastricht, it was the creeping usurpation of powers without a democratic mandate that caused the rising Euroscepticism (not merely here in the UK but across all of Europe). 40 years after our vote to stay in, the EEC had morphed into an entirely different organisation that had accrued untold additional powers and areas of responsibilities (and sought to accrue yet more) without seeking the consent of the governed.
The reason “Take back control” was such an effective slogan was precisely because it touched on that sense that we had the right to demand democratic sovereignty be returned to us.
As I say, I’m sure few people stopped to think of it in such (long-winded) terms, but that is why Take Back Control resonated with so many.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

(apologies for length of my response. I rather got the bit between my teeth!)

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I did appreciate reading that, and it’s a good debate.
Nonetheless I don’t concur with some of the ‘fundamentals’. Firstly I think the ‘democratic deficit’ is overplayed. The Common market needed rules setting and managing, and we had democratic input into that so the rules could be discussed, debated, agreed. Ditto later the Maastricht was not imposed but subject to democratic input from our representatives who, as it happened, extracted key exemptions. Not everyone was happy with the compromises for sure, but our elected Govt was part of the process and signed up. Lisbon ditto. These things were not imposed regardless of what our elected Govt said. We can disagree with the choices they made and then vote them out
Now one might contend each stage should have been subject to referenda. That’s a view but it doesn’t mean our inputs and agreements were undemocratic without referenda. It comes back to the key issue – are our MPs and Ministers representatives or delegates? You’ll appreciate the history of UK parliamentary democracy is they are representatives we elect and expect to do the detail of governing. That said I can buy into referenda when a v significant constitutional change – joining/leaving etc. But another thing altogether when it gets to policy detail. To use a legal concept, the precedent for that in our history is v weak.
I think remove the immigration issue (and especially the Syrian refugee crisis happening at the same time) and ‘Take Back Control’ would not have resonated in quite the way it did. It would have still had traction with many but it didn’t need to be much for the Vote to go the other way.
More broadly of course it remains to be seen whether ‘pooling some sovereignty’ gives a Country more control in a complex world, than seeking to float entirely alone where the ebbs and flows of others may force much more following.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

There are many highly successful countries in the world which have not ‘pooled sovereignty’ with other countries with different languages, cultures, laws, climates, sizes, etc..

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Which ones you referring to CE? Give me at least some of your list and we can continue discussion.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Which ones you referring to CE? Give me at least some of your list and we can continue discussion.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

There are many highly successful countries in the world which have not ‘pooled sovereignty’ with other countries with different languages, cultures, laws, climates, sizes, etc..

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

No need to apologise for a very good response. Absolutely right that most people accepted the Common Market made sense but did not accept the EU superstate that they never voted for.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
1 year ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

The other point that is often disregarded is that because of the 40 odd year game between the *stay in* referendum with near 70% voting to do that, and a higher proportion of the young back then, and the 2016 referendum is the ‘Gammon vote’ cohort was made up of exactly those people who had been so enthusiastic in 1975.
Other than some mumbling about, people getting older change their views, by Remainers to who I have pointed this out nobody ever really addresses it, so when asked I usually say the clue is in the initials of what was voted for in 1975 and for what was voted against in 2016.
In favour of a community of free nations; against a union of increasingly irrelevant states.
I also find Remainers split almost 50/50 between those who call me thick because increasing ‘ever closer’ union was always known and clearly articulated, first a monetary union and after that a single chancellory for fiscal union, at which point political union would be de facto…and those who call me thick because full union is not on any agenda, and could never happen anyway.
It can be quite confusing.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Ted Ditchburn

Almost as confusing as Brexiteers failure to clarify what type and form of Brexit they actually want and convey the related choices clearly and honestly to the public.
We’ve moved on from the Remain/Leave debate. We’ve Left. Now front up with what exactly are you Brexiteers doing with it. Otherwise it risks coming across as the thinking stopped after a yah-boo contest ended.

Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Why should they ‘clarify what type and form of Brexit they actually want’? Any more than a Remainer needs to spell out exactly what path the EU should take over the coming year/decade/century before being permitted to vote ‘Remain’?

Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Why should they ‘clarify what type and form of Brexit they actually want’? Any more than a Remainer needs to spell out exactly what path the EU should take over the coming year/decade/century before being permitted to vote ‘Remain’?

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Ted Ditchburn

Almost as confusing as Brexiteers failure to clarify what type and form of Brexit they actually want and convey the related choices clearly and honestly to the public.
We’ve moved on from the Remain/Leave debate. We’ve Left. Now front up with what exactly are you Brexiteers doing with it. Otherwise it risks coming across as the thinking stopped after a yah-boo contest ended.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

Sounds like a convincing argument for leaving EU political structure but staying in the Single Market/Customs Union. Shame we didn’t have the ‘sense’ to do that. We got a bit carried away didn’t we.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
1 year ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

The other point that is often disregarded is that because of the 40 odd year game between the *stay in* referendum with near 70% voting to do that, and a higher proportion of the young back then, and the 2016 referendum is the ‘Gammon vote’ cohort was made up of exactly those people who had been so enthusiastic in 1975.
Other than some mumbling about, people getting older change their views, by Remainers to who I have pointed this out nobody ever really addresses it, so when asked I usually say the clue is in the initials of what was voted for in 1975 and for what was voted against in 2016.
In favour of a community of free nations; against a union of increasingly irrelevant states.
I also find Remainers split almost 50/50 between those who call me thick because increasing ‘ever closer’ union was always known and clearly articulated, first a monetary union and after that a single chancellory for fiscal union, at which point political union would be de facto…and those who call me thick because full union is not on any agenda, and could never happen anyway.
It can be quite confusing.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

Sounds like a convincing argument for leaving EU political structure but staying in the Single Market/Customs Union. Shame we didn’t have the ‘sense’ to do that. We got a bit carried away didn’t we.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I did appreciate reading that, and it’s a good debate.
Nonetheless I don’t concur with some of the ‘fundamentals’. Firstly I think the ‘democratic deficit’ is overplayed. The Common market needed rules setting and managing, and we had democratic input into that so the rules could be discussed, debated, agreed. Ditto later the Maastricht was not imposed but subject to democratic input from our representatives who, as it happened, extracted key exemptions. Not everyone was happy with the compromises for sure, but our elected Govt was part of the process and signed up. Lisbon ditto. These things were not imposed regardless of what our elected Govt said. We can disagree with the choices they made and then vote them out
Now one might contend each stage should have been subject to referenda. That’s a view but it doesn’t mean our inputs and agreements were undemocratic without referenda. It comes back to the key issue – are our MPs and Ministers representatives or delegates? You’ll appreciate the history of UK parliamentary democracy is they are representatives we elect and expect to do the detail of governing. That said I can buy into referenda when a v significant constitutional change – joining/leaving etc. But another thing altogether when it gets to policy detail. To use a legal concept, the precedent for that in our history is v weak.
I think remove the immigration issue (and especially the Syrian refugee crisis happening at the same time) and ‘Take Back Control’ would not have resonated in quite the way it did. It would have still had traction with many but it didn’t need to be much for the Vote to go the other way.
More broadly of course it remains to be seen whether ‘pooling some sovereignty’ gives a Country more control in a complex world, than seeking to float entirely alone where the ebbs and flows of others may force much more following.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

No need to apologise for a very good response. Absolutely right that most people accepted the Common Market made sense but did not accept the EU superstate that they never voted for.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Lovely post.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Off course the “Founding Fathers” of the USA thought exactly the same in 1776, which is hardly surprising given their background.

In 1975 the Common Market made sense, even if there the were the odd one or two siren voices that thought otherwise.

As it turned out they were CORRECT and Maastricht came as a bitter shock to many, if fact “we had been had”, and in no uncertain terms.

However to plead for British exceptionalism is too invite screams of heresy from the ‘shriekers of Quislington’ and their Ilk!

Tony Day
Tony Day
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I would agree with most everything written here,except the common Market never made sense. I recall an impassioned speech by I believe it was Peter Shore who laid out what a Market was and what was required of a market for it to function. Essentially each of the parties had to bring to the market goods that others did not have, In the case of the Common Market we produced the same things that the majority of European states produced and required many raw materials which they did’nt have so both sides were down to importing from outside the market, hence no basis for a Market.
It is my belief that had there been a referendumn prior to joining we would never have joined, I wouldn’t have voted for it and many of those I worked with were of a similar mind.

Last edited 1 year ago by Tony Day
Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

(apologies for length of my response. I rather got the bit between my teeth!)

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Lovely post.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Off course the “Founding Fathers” of the USA thought exactly the same in 1776, which is hardly surprising given their background.

In 1975 the Common Market made sense, even if there the were the odd one or two siren voices that thought otherwise.

As it turned out they were CORRECT and Maastricht came as a bitter shock to many, if fact “we had been had”, and in no uncertain terms.

However to plead for British exceptionalism is too invite screams of heresy from the ‘shriekers of Quislington’ and their Ilk!

Tony Day
Tony Day
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I would agree with most everything written here,except the common Market never made sense. I recall an impassioned speech by I believe it was Peter Shore who laid out what a Market was and what was required of a market for it to function. Essentially each of the parties had to bring to the market goods that others did not have, In the case of the Common Market we produced the same things that the majority of European states produced and required many raw materials which they did’nt have so both sides were down to importing from outside the market, hence no basis for a Market.
It is my belief that had there been a referendumn prior to joining we would never have joined, I wouldn’t have voted for it and many of those I worked with were of a similar mind.

Last edited 1 year ago by Tony Day
Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Dear Mr Watson,
Speak for yourself! You certainly don’t speak for me, nor for the many like me who discovered soon after being duped by the Establishment in 1975 that our whole system of law, both criminal and civil, would need to be replaced by the alien – yes, alien – rule of the Code Napoleon-based European system. But then, that was when I began to study ‘the English Legal System, Constitutional and Administrative Law’ as a nineteen-year-old. Until then, I naively assumed that if the greater part of both main parties at Westminster supported something, it was probably in all our best interests.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

But I really don’t think this is an “arcane discussion”.
I’d agree with you that few people stop to consider the Common Law and its precepts, in the particular – or even the abstract, but I firmly believe there is a sense of freedom under the Law that is hard-wired into every Briton in a manner quite distinct from other nationalities. I would contend that the reason for that, whether people stop to consider it or not, is our Common Law heritage.
As a country we’ve long taken pride in our democratic tradition. Even those on the political Left, who recoil from most of British history, have always wanted to associate themselves with the struggles of the British people to achieve a voice, to have a say – however small – in shaping our national destiny.
Before most other countries in Europe, we created a system of Popular sovereignty, the idea that people should have a say in how they are governed – and by whom.
Brexit was the latest in a long line of occasions when the people of these isles stood up to those in power and asserted and fought for their rights.
Historically, the demands of all the various rebellions and movements against entrenched privilege and power in this country have essentially been the same, namely that if we are expected to live by the laws of the land then we should have a say in who makes those laws – with the obvious corollary that if we have no capacity to influence who makes the laws, then we will break the law.
The Peasants Revolt, the English Civil War, the Chartists, the Suffragettes, the demands have all been the same – the right to have a say in our national destiny. The right to have a vote and, since achieving universal suffrage, that each vote should count the same whether cast by duke or dustman, young or old, male or female.
We fought for those rights. We hold those rights dear. They are rights that everyone, regardless of where they sit on the political spectrum, claims to hold dear. Even those who might not stop to consider those rights in the abstract, still have a sense that democratic sovereignty and the common law are the birthright of every Briton, thanks to those who came before us and fought to gain those rights.
Our membership of what the EU had become was denying the British people their democratic say, and we rebelled against it. For a good many years after the 1975 vote, there was general acceptance of our place in the EEC and its other incarnations. Of course I can’t speak for all 17.4 million Leave voters (nor the countless millions of Eurosceptics across the EU) but I would hazard that a very large number of them would agree that the Common Market had made sense. A group of entirely sovereign European nations agreeing to cooperate on trade. Had we remained simply as that there would have been a willingness – even enthusiasm – for the project.
Since Maastricht, it was the creeping usurpation of powers without a democratic mandate that caused the rising Euroscepticism (not merely here in the UK but across all of Europe). 40 years after our vote to stay in, the EEC had morphed into an entirely different organisation that had accrued untold additional powers and areas of responsibilities (and sought to accrue yet more) without seeking the consent of the governed.
The reason “Take back control” was such an effective slogan was precisely because it touched on that sense that we had the right to demand democratic sovereignty be returned to us.
As I say, I’m sure few people stopped to think of it in such (long-winded) terms, but that is why Take Back Control resonated with so many.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paddy Taylor
Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Dear Mr Watson,
Speak for yourself! You certainly don’t speak for me, nor for the many like me who discovered soon after being duped by the Establishment in 1975 that our whole system of law, both criminal and civil, would need to be replaced by the alien – yes, alien – rule of the Code Napoleon-based European system. But then, that was when I began to study ‘the English Legal System, Constitutional and Administrative Law’ as a nineteen-year-old. Until then, I naively assumed that if the greater part of both main parties at Westminster supported something, it was probably in all our best interests.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

“In Britain anything is allowed unless specifically proscribed.
In France nothing is allowed unless specifically permitted.”

Perhaps in theory – I’m not sure how it pans out in practice. One example – there is far more freedom to roam, boat, hunt, camp on land and waterways on the continent. The recent ruling banning camping on Dartmoor, because it is not specifically permitted, is a case in point.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

What about the “Right to Roam” in bonny Scotland?

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago

Sure that is a UK exception – doesn’t negate my point. As an aside, I think that you’d get into trouble hunting on anyone’s land in Scotland – whilst in much of Europe it is everyone’s right to shoot most anywhere (I’m told this is why French always have good fences around their gardens – a legal necessity).

A more interesting point perhaps is the ultimate link of British restrictive land practices to the Norman invasion. ‘Get off my land’ (that they’d just stolen) is something the Normans epitomised, and we copied it for a thousand years. Now it seems a certain sort of Brit (e.g. Alexander Darwall) denies the deep influence of foreigners on British culture, whilst simultaneously scapegoating them for our failure to govern ourselves effectively, and fighting to protect the Norman rules, against the British people.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Trespass is no longer a Criminal offence in England.

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Trespass is no longer a Criminal offence in England.

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Benjamin Jones
Benjamin Jones
1 year ago

The SNP are certainly making the most of the “Right to Remoan” in Bonny Scotland.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Benjamin Jones

Indeed they are! Along with the wretched Welsh, or so I hear.

Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
1 year ago

But the Welsh voted ‘Leave’. More emphatically than the English.

Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
1 year ago

But the Welsh voted ‘Leave’. More emphatically than the English.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Benjamin Jones

Indeed they are! Along with the wretched Welsh, or so I hear.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago

Sure that is a UK exception – doesn’t negate my point. As an aside, I think that you’d get into trouble hunting on anyone’s land in Scotland – whilst in much of Europe it is everyone’s right to shoot most anywhere (I’m told this is why French always have good fences around their gardens – a legal necessity).

A more interesting point perhaps is the ultimate link of British restrictive land practices to the Norman invasion. ‘Get off my land’ (that they’d just stolen) is something the Normans epitomised, and we copied it for a thousand years. Now it seems a certain sort of Brit (e.g. Alexander Darwall) denies the deep influence of foreigners on British culture, whilst simultaneously scapegoating them for our failure to govern ourselves effectively, and fighting to protect the Norman rules, against the British people.

Benjamin Jones
Benjamin Jones
1 year ago

The SNP are certainly making the most of the “Right to Remoan” in Bonny Scotland.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

You are right o query how it pans out in practice, because French people often seem to ignore the law when it suits them.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

What about the “Right to Roam” in bonny Scotland?

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

You are right o query how it pans out in practice, because French people often seem to ignore the law when it suits them.

andy young
andy young
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

It’s a total difference in philosophical outlook. British empiricism vs. French idealism. We believe that if the observations don’t agree with the theory, then the theory must be wrong; with the French it’s the other way round.
The differences in framing laws, as above, demonstrates this perfectly. It also explains why French philosophers are so keen to subvert objective reality. It is essentially authoritarian & undemocratic – our glorious leaders have, by virtue of their enormous intellect, formed the most perfect rules for society & must therefore be obeyed unquestioningly, no matter how ridiculous they may appear to everyone else.
It’s a pernicious & dangerous outlook & I want nothing to do with it.

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Very astute comment.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Common Law versus Civil Law IS the crucial argument as you so rightly say. Sadly even the great Lord Jonathan Sumption, KS, missed that one.

Incidentally we were “conquered “ in 1688 when a Dutch homosexual at the head of an army of foreign mercenaries landed in Torbay and overthrew our (albeit worthless) God”s anointed Monarch, the hapless James II.

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Interesting and some good academic stuff on the differences in legal principles. Nonetheless both countries much more similar and freer than likes of Xi’s China so caution on the ‘narcissism of small differences’.
None of this though is why the public voted for Brexit. Well maybe a tiny number for whom this is their thing, but immigration, enhanced affluence and promises of reinvested sums in the NHS etc were why we voted Leave. And on those it’ll be judged by the vast majority of the public. Arcane discussions on whether we are now free to have as many E numbers in our prawn cocktail crisps as we like are lost on vast majority.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

“In Britain anything is allowed unless specifically proscribed.
In France nothing is allowed unless specifically permitted.”

Perhaps in theory – I’m not sure how it pans out in practice. One example – there is far more freedom to roam, boat, hunt, camp on land and waterways on the continent. The recent ruling banning camping on Dartmoor, because it is not specifically permitted, is a case in point.

andy young
andy young
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

It’s a total difference in philosophical outlook. British empiricism vs. French idealism. We believe that if the observations don’t agree with the theory, then the theory must be wrong; with the French it’s the other way round.
The differences in framing laws, as above, demonstrates this perfectly. It also explains why French philosophers are so keen to subvert objective reality. It is essentially authoritarian & undemocratic – our glorious leaders have, by virtue of their enormous intellect, formed the most perfect rules for society & must therefore be obeyed unquestioningly, no matter how ridiculous they may appear to everyone else.
It’s a pernicious & dangerous outlook & I want nothing to do with it.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago

Non, Je ne Bregret rien.
You make an amusing – and reasonably plausible – case, but your argument only works among heartbroken Remainers here, and what I imagine is your circle of bien pensant compatriots.
What could be a more telling indictment of the “European Project” than to witness the extraordinary volte face of M Barnier, as he tried to run for office in France?
Mr Europe – The man for whom the 4 Freedoms were indivisible and entirely sacrosanct. The man who refused to accept the idea that the EU could or should ever give an inch. For whom ECJ edicts were as unchallengeable as the word of God.
All well and good whilst he sat cocooned in his Ivory Tower at the Berlaymont, part of the technocratic priesthood dictating doctrine, safe from the inconvenience of ever having to achieve a popular mandate.
But then, suddenly, channelling his inner Farage, and taking the line that â€œWe must regain our legal sovereignty so that we are no longer subject to the rulings of the European Court of Justice or the European Court of Human Rights.”
Isn’t it illuminating that even the most staunch defender of the EU has to turn against the institutions and point out their obvious faults if he wants to appeal to an actual voter?
Of course the concerns of the citizenry have never been allowed to stand in the way of the broader EU ambitions, but domestically different rules apply – you actually have to win voters over.
Sovereignty was – and is – a real issue. Though our take on what it means rather differs from the French- and has done for centuries.
I was always rather confused as to why, in all the interminable deliberations and discussions over Brexit, so few journalists referenced the Common Law.
I think it is quite a large part of why the British have always had a very different take on the various incarnations of the EU than most European nations – that, and the fact that we haven’t been conquered and ruled by a hostile power for nearly 1000 years. (Though we almost managed to let our “leaders” achieve the same by simply gifting dominion to Brussels without ever gaining the consent of those they sought to govern)
I read an article a while ago (in a rival publication) that talked warmly of the EU “allowing” its citizens freedoms – I thought that rather telling.
The great difference between our Common Law system and the legal systems adopted by most other European countries is encapsulated in what we have by right – as opposed to what they are “allowed”.
The British (and Commonwealth citizens, who adopted our system) have the good fortune to enjoy a Common Law heritage – a very different inheritance to their European counterparts.
France’s judicial system is based on the Napoleonic code of 1804, which is in turn based on the Roman system of law. This was copied by a great many European states and forms the backbone of the ECJ’s understanding of legal frameworks.
The British system is based on Law established by court decisions rather than by statutes enacted by legislatures.
The difference between them has been rather simplistically characterised as:
In Britain anything is allowed unless specifically proscribed.
In France nothing is allowed unless specifically permitted.
It is a wholly different mindset and, although rarely mentioned in all these debates, is the foundation, I would suggest, to a lot of why we have always viewed supranational government differently from other European countries.

 

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

It’s official. I’ve reached my Brexit saturation point for this particular round of belly aching! Was starting to feel rather rueful and sceptical…but then Guy Verhofstadt and Michel Barnier crawled out the woodwork and opened their mouths and I thought “ah, yes- THAT’S why people decided they wanted out”.

Hope we can put away the discussions like Christmas decorations for another year, although I suspect that won’t be possible. Where are my earplugs…?

Last edited 1 year ago by Katharine Eyre
Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Katherine,
When I think of the many hours (which probably by now totals weeks of my life) that I’ve spent writing/arguing/debating Brexit, from the broad concept right through to the tiniest, nerdiest details, I don’t think any of it was particularly good for me, or a productive use of my time. Not that it’s stopped me from doing it, of course.
About a year ago I was chatting to a very dear friend and somehow the Brexit negotiations came up in conversation, specifically the idiotic accusation of ‘cherry-picking’. I made a disparaging remark about Michel Barnier and he responded with “Who’s she?”
I pressed him and he said he had honestly never heard of Barnier, because within a week of the referendum result, he could already see how toxic it was going to become, and that he didn’t have a strong enough opinion either way to want to get involved, so he’d deliberately tuned it all out – and had continued to do so.
At the time I was absolutely horrified at his wilful ignorance on such an important topic. But subsequently I’ve thought about it and (in a strange way) actually rather envy him.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Oh my goodness – same here. For me, the process of tuning out had to be learned. The discipline slips every now and then. Clearly – otherwise I wouldn’t be here commenting again!

Last edited 1 year ago by Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Oh my goodness – same here. For me, the process of tuning out had to be learned. The discipline slips every now and then. Clearly – otherwise I wouldn’t be here commenting again!

Last edited 1 year ago by Katharine Eyre
Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Katherine,
When I think of the many hours (which probably by now totals weeks of my life) that I’ve spent writing/arguing/debating Brexit, from the broad concept right through to the tiniest, nerdiest details, I don’t think any of it was particularly good for me, or a productive use of my time. Not that it’s stopped me from doing it, of course.
About a year ago I was chatting to a very dear friend and somehow the Brexit negotiations came up in conversation, specifically the idiotic accusation of ‘cherry-picking’. I made a disparaging remark about Michel Barnier and he responded with “Who’s she?”
I pressed him and he said he had honestly never heard of Barnier, because within a week of the referendum result, he could already see how toxic it was going to become, and that he didn’t have a strong enough opinion either way to want to get involved, so he’d deliberately tuned it all out – and had continued to do so.
At the time I was absolutely horrified at his wilful ignorance on such an important topic. But subsequently I’ve thought about it and (in a strange way) actually rather envy him.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

It’s official. I’ve reached my Brexit saturation point for this particular round of belly aching! Was starting to feel rather rueful and sceptical…but then Guy Verhofstadt and Michel Barnier crawled out the woodwork and opened their mouths and I thought “ah, yes- THAT’S why people decided they wanted out”.

Hope we can put away the discussions like Christmas decorations for another year, although I suspect that won’t be possible. Where are my earplugs…?

Last edited 1 year ago by Katharine Eyre
Kathleen Burnett
Kathleen Burnett
1 year ago

Regards the Unherd survey, the British public are just reflecting the negative ambience on Brexit oozing from the greasy pores of the MSM. And the French elite are simply displaying their vain personalities and self-confirming their position on top of civilisation’s flagpole.
We deserve better, on both sides of La Manche!

j watson
j watson
1 year ago

Remember alot of Brexiteers are also criticising that it’s not delivered what was expected. They tend to find scapegoats, including current Govt, to blame for that, but the point is the negative ambience is also coming from elements of the Brexit side. Now that’s uncomfortable for some, but it’s a fact.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

I think they rightly blame the establishment who at every turn hve sought to frustrate Brexit no matter what the detriment to this country

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago

The problem is that ‘what kind of Brexit do we want?’ (several models were posited, are available) was not defined, voted on, or even asked much. Essentially, half the country, and a clear majority of the powerful groups (e.g. business, unions medicine, politicians, academia, science, arts) did not want it. Individual Brexiteers assumed that they would get whatever version they wanted; and Remainers have fought to get a version of Brexit they preferred. Politics did not stop, were not settled on June 24th. ‘no matter what the detriment to this country’ – sorry this is cynical nonsense – the great majority of Brexiteers and Remainers alike want the best for the country; they just have very different views on what that is. A 52/48% is very far from a clear mandate – even if it was 80/20 – the 20 should not be ignored; and what ‘Brexit’ actually entailed in the detail was tragically vague – all but setting us up for a civil war. No wonder Cameron has slumped into depression.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

The usual Remainer weasel words ‘what kind of Brexit’; there’s only one kind, which is to cease being a member. How is it that this can be argued about?
Once out, one might have agreements with the EU, but these are treaties, to be ended or changed or renegotiated.
Unfortunately, the EU wanted to make it hell for us, and they mostly succeeded, thanks to the stupidity of the Conservatives in permitting a Remainer to become PM once Cameron dishonourably walked out in pique.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

“Brexit’; there’s only one kind, which is to cease being a member. How is it that this can be argued about?”

Only one kind; weasal words! Colin, I really don’t mean to be insulting, but that ranks amongst the most obtuse opinions I’ve heard on the whole subject. Why would you make such a patently false claim? ‘Brexit means brexit’ – is a glib statement from a glib, vacuous narcissist – Boris Johnson. He gets away with because of his charm, buffoonish manipulations that he perfected across his lifetime. Do not follow.

There are a wide range of possible Brexit arrangements,, discussed lightly by both sides (not so much by the teams) – I have never heard this denied, until today. This doesn’t inspire faith in your knowledge. Nor does the idea that the EU would just role over to whatever an anti- EU government wants. Who does that in a negotiation? Extraordinary.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dominic A
Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

“Brexit’; there’s only one kind, which is to cease being a member. How is it that this can be argued about?”

Only one kind; weasal words! Colin, I really don’t mean to be insulting, but that ranks amongst the most obtuse opinions I’ve heard on the whole subject. Why would you make such a patently false claim? ‘Brexit means brexit’ – is a glib statement from a glib, vacuous narcissist – Boris Johnson. He gets away with because of his charm, buffoonish manipulations that he perfected across his lifetime. Do not follow.

There are a wide range of possible Brexit arrangements,, discussed lightly by both sides (not so much by the teams) – I have never heard this denied, until today. This doesn’t inspire faith in your knowledge. Nor does the idea that the EU would just role over to whatever an anti- EU government wants. Who does that in a negotiation? Extraordinary.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dominic A
Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

The usual Remainer weasel words ‘what kind of Brexit’; there’s only one kind, which is to cease being a member. How is it that this can be argued about?
Once out, one might have agreements with the EU, but these are treaties, to be ended or changed or renegotiated.
Unfortunately, the EU wanted to make it hell for us, and they mostly succeeded, thanks to the stupidity of the Conservatives in permitting a Remainer to become PM once Cameron dishonourably walked out in pique.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago

Who is this ghost like ‘establishment’ you keep blaming? You don’t get more establishment than Boris and his Etonian chums. Mail & Express too with their rich establishment owners. Farage a Stock Broker Etc etc.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Who is the establishment?
Let me see, unelected civil servant and especially senior civil servants, a large proportion of MPs of all parties, the senior Judiciary, NGOs an their officers and employees of the establishment MSM – that would be the Guardian, Times, Independent, Telegraph and BBC who have the ear/are the voice of the establishment, and most definitely not the Mail and Express. The fact that you single them out shows you know exactly what I mean.
Boris has never been part of the establishment. For the longest time they have loathed and feared him in equal measure. Look at the lengths the establishment went to remove him form office.
As for Farage he is the appear as the antithesis of the establishment but could be fulfilling the role of controlled opposition.
By contrast Owen Jones and Ash Sarker are part of the establishment

j watson
j watson
1 year ago

Quite a contortion you have to pull yourself into there to come up with this ‘Ghost’.
I strongly suspect that Boris is much more establishment than you like to think. Remember he was London Mayor, and certainly not Leave then. I fear many genuine Leavers have been played by the Establishment figures who led the charge and wouldn’t lose much either way. Didn’t Moog move one of his businesses to Ireland before we left?

j watson
j watson
1 year ago

Quite a contortion you have to pull yourself into there to come up with this ‘Ghost’.
I strongly suspect that Boris is much more establishment than you like to think. Remember he was London Mayor, and certainly not Leave then. I fear many genuine Leavers have been played by the Establishment figures who led the charge and wouldn’t lose much either way. Didn’t Moog move one of his businesses to Ireland before we left?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Who is the establishment?
Let me see, unelected civil servant and especially senior civil servants, a large proportion of MPs of all parties, the senior Judiciary, NGOs an their officers and employees of the establishment MSM – that would be the Guardian, Times, Independent, Telegraph and BBC who have the ear/are the voice of the establishment, and most definitely not the Mail and Express. The fact that you single them out shows you know exactly what I mean.
Boris has never been part of the establishment. For the longest time they have loathed and feared him in equal measure. Look at the lengths the establishment went to remove him form office.
As for Farage he is the appear as the antithesis of the establishment but could be fulfilling the role of controlled opposition.
By contrast Owen Jones and Ash Sarker are part of the establishment

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
1 year ago

Are there really people screaming that Brexit needed to provide clear and unambiguous increases in GDP within 5 to 10 years lest it be deemed a failure.
Why weren’t we screaming about the disaster EEC membership had *proven* to be during the 10 years when the swinging sixties gave way to the decade of strikes, 3 day weeks and power cuts, industrial collapse and dead people stored in refrigerated lorries… ?

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago

The problem is that ‘what kind of Brexit do we want?’ (several models were posited, are available) was not defined, voted on, or even asked much. Essentially, half the country, and a clear majority of the powerful groups (e.g. business, unions medicine, politicians, academia, science, arts) did not want it. Individual Brexiteers assumed that they would get whatever version they wanted; and Remainers have fought to get a version of Brexit they preferred. Politics did not stop, were not settled on June 24th. ‘no matter what the detriment to this country’ – sorry this is cynical nonsense – the great majority of Brexiteers and Remainers alike want the best for the country; they just have very different views on what that is. A 52/48% is very far from a clear mandate – even if it was 80/20 – the 20 should not be ignored; and what ‘Brexit’ actually entailed in the detail was tragically vague – all but setting us up for a civil war. No wonder Cameron has slumped into depression.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago

Who is this ghost like ‘establishment’ you keep blaming? You don’t get more establishment than Boris and his Etonian chums. Mail & Express too with their rich establishment owners. Farage a Stock Broker Etc etc.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
1 year ago

Are there really people screaming that Brexit needed to provide clear and unambiguous increases in GDP within 5 to 10 years lest it be deemed a failure.
Why weren’t we screaming about the disaster EEC membership had *proven* to be during the 10 years when the swinging sixties gave way to the decade of strikes, 3 day weeks and power cuts, industrial collapse and dead people stored in refrigerated lorries… ?

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

I develop a stock system in a parts warehouse and occasionally run training sessions for the people who work there. Everyone there voted leave, not just the Brits, but the south Asians and even the east Europeans. No-one has changed their mind. So forgive me for being a little skeptical about your claims.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

That’s just the kind of argument – making bold claims from anecdotal evidence – that makes me worry that someone may not understand the world.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

But he made no such “bold claim” or generalisation, did he ? His comment was about his direct experience only. Unless you think he’s lying, your point is invalid.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

He said he was sceptical about the idea that some Brexit voters were regretful (a finding based on repeated polling of thousands of people, carried out by professional polling companies)…. because of some people he’s met at work ‘all of whom voted Brexit’ and none of whom regretted it’. This is a clear claim, and a classic ‘class 101’ mistake – referencing anecdote in situation where it is actually irrelevant. As a side issue, I may be wrong, but it seems highly unlikely that he asked all the staff i) whether they voted Brexit, and ii) whether they regretted it, and iii) that none of them did.

Again, if someone doesn’t understand this, or thinks that anecdotes are meaningful (in this scenario) – it calls into doubt their understanding of the world.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Read it again. “No-one has changed their mind.” That clearly refers to the people he asked (the previous sentence). Context.
He is merely reporting his direct experience (rather than making stuff up or imagining what other people think). He’s probably not a professional opinion pollster – so I think you’re asking a bit much from him.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

I am not asking anything of him. Just pointing out the fallacy of argument by anecdote. He clearly stated he doubted the premise (from polling) that many had changed their mind… because of a few people he’d talked to. Maybe I’m sweating the issue because it’s another frustrating example of rhetorical overeach and poor quality reasoning & analysis that is typical of Brexit debates – on both sides (but you’ll not be surprised to hear my opinion that it is particularly a sin of Leave).

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

I am not asking anything of him. Just pointing out the fallacy of argument by anecdote. He clearly stated he doubted the premise (from polling) that many had changed their mind… because of a few people he’d talked to. Maybe I’m sweating the issue because it’s another frustrating example of rhetorical overeach and poor quality reasoning & analysis that is typical of Brexit debates – on both sides (but you’ll not be surprised to hear my opinion that it is particularly a sin of Leave).

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Read it again. “No-one has changed their mind.” That clearly refers to the people he asked (the previous sentence). Context.
He is merely reporting his direct experience (rather than making stuff up or imagining what other people think). He’s probably not a professional opinion pollster – so I think you’re asking a bit much from him.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Let’s assume, though hugely unscientific so far as sample goes, HB honesty conveys his impression. But it’s an impression, not an independently verified fact. He’s compromised because he implies a power-dynamic between him and the employees and because, like us all, he will be prey to confirmatory bias. You pick up most what you want to hear.
It’s why anecdotes can be interesting but we should all remain inquisitive.

Last edited 1 year ago by j watson
Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

He was doing some training for other people. We know nothing about the relative seniority of the people involved (or the so-called “power dynamics”). For all we know, they were more senior than he was. But in nay case it doesn’t matter.
How on earth do you expect “independent verification” of this sort of information ? You must either believe him or not. Life’s too short for 100% inspection of everything.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

He was doing some training for other people. We know nothing about the relative seniority of the people involved (or the so-called “power dynamics”). For all we know, they were more senior than he was. But in nay case it doesn’t matter.
How on earth do you expect “independent verification” of this sort of information ? You must either believe him or not. Life’s too short for 100% inspection of everything.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

He said he was sceptical about the idea that some Brexit voters were regretful (a finding based on repeated polling of thousands of people, carried out by professional polling companies)…. because of some people he’s met at work ‘all of whom voted Brexit’ and none of whom regretted it’. This is a clear claim, and a classic ‘class 101’ mistake – referencing anecdote in situation where it is actually irrelevant. As a side issue, I may be wrong, but it seems highly unlikely that he asked all the staff i) whether they voted Brexit, and ii) whether they regretted it, and iii) that none of them did.

Again, if someone doesn’t understand this, or thinks that anecdotes are meaningful (in this scenario) – it calls into doubt their understanding of the world.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Let’s assume, though hugely unscientific so far as sample goes, HB honesty conveys his impression. But it’s an impression, not an independently verified fact. He’s compromised because he implies a power-dynamic between him and the employees and because, like us all, he will be prey to confirmatory bias. You pick up most what you want to hear.
It’s why anecdotes can be interesting but we should all remain inquisitive.

Last edited 1 year ago by j watson
Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Not at all like a Remainer, of course, who does.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

But he made no such “bold claim” or generalisation, did he ? His comment was about his direct experience only. Unless you think he’s lying, your point is invalid.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Not at all like a Remainer, of course, who does.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

It may be that they fear saying differently to the boss given they know his views? You sure they didn’t feel just a little intimidated? You can’t be sure of what they really feel, and beholds us all to have some humility about how much insight we have into what others really think.
That aside the issue is now 6 yrs later do they feel it’s delivered what they were told?

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

That’s just the kind of argument – making bold claims from anecdotal evidence – that makes me worry that someone may not understand the world.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

It may be that they fear saying differently to the boss given they know his views? You sure they didn’t feel just a little intimidated? You can’t be sure of what they really feel, and beholds us all to have some humility about how much insight we have into what others really think.
That aside the issue is now 6 yrs later do they feel it’s delivered what they were told?

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Not so much the present government (if you mean the elected ones rather than the permanent ones being the civil service), but Mrs May, MPs like Soubry and Benn, and most of the Lords.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

I actually think May made one of the biggest clangers in the whole post Vote saga by almost immediately dismissing, via her Lancaster statement, retention of Single Market/Customs Union membership and a Norway/Swiss type model. Had we done that, whilst some would have still grumbled, we’d have been out and settled with hardly any economic shock. Thus she steered us towards a much harder Brexit than in fact likes of Farage/Hannan had been suggesting during the campaign. Subsequently she impaled herself on the NI issue, but not clear any Brexiteer is finding that easy, even Steve Baker. So to suggest she’s anti-Leave really is nonsense.
I think your contention really lacks depth of understanding and I suspect you really haven’t been following the detail as much as you should. The problem with so many Brexiteers is they failed to then engage with complexity arising and instead so go looking for next scapegoats.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

I actually think May made one of the biggest clangers in the whole post Vote saga by almost immediately dismissing, via her Lancaster statement, retention of Single Market/Customs Union membership and a Norway/Swiss type model. Had we done that, whilst some would have still grumbled, we’d have been out and settled with hardly any economic shock. Thus she steered us towards a much harder Brexit than in fact likes of Farage/Hannan had been suggesting during the campaign. Subsequently she impaled herself on the NI issue, but not clear any Brexiteer is finding that easy, even Steve Baker. So to suggest she’s anti-Leave really is nonsense.
I think your contention really lacks depth of understanding and I suspect you really haven’t been following the detail as much as you should. The problem with so many Brexiteers is they failed to then engage with complexity arising and instead so go looking for next scapegoats.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

I think they rightly blame the establishment who at every turn hve sought to frustrate Brexit no matter what the detriment to this country

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

I develop a stock system in a parts warehouse and occasionally run training sessions for the people who work there. Everyone there voted leave, not just the Brits, but the south Asians and even the east Europeans. No-one has changed their mind. So forgive me for being a little skeptical about your claims.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Not so much the present government (if you mean the elected ones rather than the permanent ones being the civil service), but Mrs May, MPs like Soubry and Benn, and most of the Lords.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago

Remember alot of Brexiteers are also criticising that it’s not delivered what was expected. They tend to find scapegoats, including current Govt, to blame for that, but the point is the negative ambience is also coming from elements of the Brexit side. Now that’s uncomfortable for some, but it’s a fact.

Kathleen Burnett
Kathleen Burnett
1 year ago

Regards the Unherd survey, the British public are just reflecting the negative ambience on Brexit oozing from the greasy pores of the MSM. And the French elite are simply displaying their vain personalities and self-confirming their position on top of civilisation’s flagpole.
We deserve better, on both sides of La Manche!

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

This statement by Macron’s previous PM Jean Castex quoted in the article tells you everything you need to know: “It must be made obvious that it is more painful to leave the EU than to remain within it,”.
As I noted at the time, the fact that he freely admits that it is *not obvious* is a direct admission that we are better off out. If it were not in our interests to leave, it would not be necessary to start creating artificial costs to punish us.
The author still refuses to admit the strong French self-interest in keeping the UK within the EU to pay the bills which the French always expect others to pay for them. We had consistently been a far larger net contributor to the EU than France – a situation that could not be justified by the relative economic parity of the countries.
The author also clearly expects France to continue to be able to bully Eastern European EU members into doing what it wants. Dream on. That may have worked in the past. It won’t going forwards. And certainly not after the disgraceful lasck of action from France and Germany over Ukraine.

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter B
Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

This statement by Macron’s previous PM Jean Castex quoted in the article tells you everything you need to know: “It must be made obvious that it is more painful to leave the EU than to remain within it,”.
As I noted at the time, the fact that he freely admits that it is *not obvious* is a direct admission that we are better off out. If it were not in our interests to leave, it would not be necessary to start creating artificial costs to punish us.
The author still refuses to admit the strong French self-interest in keeping the UK within the EU to pay the bills which the French always expect others to pay for them. We had consistently been a far larger net contributor to the EU than France – a situation that could not be justified by the relative economic parity of the countries.
The author also clearly expects France to continue to be able to bully Eastern European EU members into doing what it wants. Dream on. That may have worked in the past. It won’t going forwards. And certainly not after the disgraceful lasck of action from France and Germany over Ukraine.

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter B
Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago

Interesting insights into the self image of Germany’s junior partner.

I suppose we all think we’re more than we are, and take delight when a perceived stumble by our fellows temporarily confirms that fantasy.

Nicely whimsical essay.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago

Interesting insights into the self image of Germany’s junior partner.

I suppose we all think we’re more than we are, and take delight when a perceived stumble by our fellows temporarily confirms that fantasy.

Nicely whimsical essay.

Ben Jones
Ben Jones
1 year ago

As a visitor to France – not Paris, mind you – I find on the whole the locals to be an agreeable bunch. They hate Macron and are deeply suspicious of the EU. On the other hand, I’ve found a feature of French thought is rampant cakeism of the sort to make Boris flush. They want to retire at sixty but they don’t want to pay for it. They want to governed properly but have no real understanding of sovereignty. They want prosperity but not if it means upsetting their bloated and inefficient agricultural sector. And so on and so forth.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

Sounds quite similar to us then. Albeit they retire a bit earlier.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

Sounds quite similar to us then. Albeit they retire a bit earlier.

Ben Jones
Ben Jones
1 year ago

As a visitor to France – not Paris, mind you – I find on the whole the locals to be an agreeable bunch. They hate Macron and are deeply suspicious of the EU. On the other hand, I’ve found a feature of French thought is rampant cakeism of the sort to make Boris flush. They want to retire at sixty but they don’t want to pay for it. They want to governed properly but have no real understanding of sovereignty. They want prosperity but not if it means upsetting their bloated and inefficient agricultural sector. And so on and so forth.

Al N
Al N
1 year ago

On the really important things over the last 100 years France has been found wanting and especially during the 2nd war, surrendered with relative ease leaving others to sort out the mess.
Perhaps this is why the French elite show such disdain for the Americans and the British.
The Macron French remind me of the playground bully – all tough and mighty while threatening from the EU underskirt but weak and feeble when asked on its own to actually do anything.

Last edited 1 year ago by Al N
j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Al N

Of course the reverse might be contended – because we were on winning side in WW2 we failed to have the self reflection the French state may have had and struggle more with our diminished status than they do?
Probably something in both sides of the contentions.