French warn UK: ‘Brexit could be your Waterloo’

On the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, France's leading daily newspaper Le Monde has taken the chance to tell Britain if it decides to leave the EU it would be as crushing a defeat as Waterloo.

French warn UK: 'Brexit could be your Waterloo'
Thursday marks the 200th anniversary of Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo. Photo: AFP
Two hundred years ago to the day, Napoleon was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo. 
The French press have offered fairly light coverage of the bicentenary, perhaps understandable given the ambiguity around Napoleon's legacy, but French daily Le Monde chose the anniversary to send a message across The English Channel.
Considered as the country's newspaper of record  Le Monde published an unprecedented English-language editorial on Thursday under the headline “Britain beware, « Brexit » could be your Waterloo!”
Le Monde said it chose to publish the editorial in the language of Shakespeare to ensure its message was really heard.
It explained that after two hundred years, it is time to take a fresh look at what Waterloo actually means.
“Defeat does not come easily to a proud nation.
“On June 18th, 1815, France did not only lose thousands of its brave soldiers on the gory fields of Belgium. It lost an Emperor, whom the English then took into permanent exile on the desolate island of St Helena; it also lost its dream of hegemony.”
The paper then drew on the fact that there has been two centuries of Anglo-French peace, which the paper labelled a “spectacular achievement”.
“Never again have we been at war with each other, except on rugby fields,” it wrote.
“Inevitable skirmishes have happened, at Fashoda and elsewhere, but from Suez to Libya, for better or worse, the Entente Cordiale has prevailed.”
The editorial continued with Le Monde calling on France's British allies “to resist the familiar temptation of splendid isolation”, referring to the fact that British Prime Minister David Cameron will hold an in-out referendum by 2017 to determine whether Britain should remain a member of the EU.
Le Monde then took aim at Ukip leader Nigel Farage, urging the Brits to steer clear of the politician and his policies for an exit from the EU.
“The country which cornered Napoleon cannot succumb to Nigel Farage. Today, we solemnly say to our friends across the Channel: beware, Brexit could be your Waterloo!” it said.
“Messieurs les Anglais, don’t let the sirens of a fake independence pull you away from the continent. Just as in 1815, your future is in Europe.”
Read the full editorial here

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France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Visits to the Channel islands from France have halved since Brexit, and French local authorities say they may be forced to cut the regular ferry service, asking for the passport requirement to be waived for French visitors.

France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Travel to and from the Channel islands – which are British crown dependancies – has reduced significantly since Brexit, when passports became a requirement for those travelling in and out of the islands and their ports.

Now the president of the local authorities in the Manche département of France has asked that passport requirements be lifted, with hopes of increasing travel to and from the islands.

Jean Morin told Ouest France that there has been a “considerable reduction in the number of passengers on routes between the Channel ports and the islands” and as a result the ferry service between France and the islands was seriously in deficit.

“On these lines, we will never make money, but we cannot be in deficit”, explained the Morin. 

He added that if a solution is not found by the deadline of May 1st, 2023, then local authorities will stop funding the shipping company DNO, which runs the Manche Îles Express ferry service.

“If the passport requirement is not lifted by then, we will have no choice but not to renew the service contract for 2024-2025”, Morin told Ouest France.

Only around half of French people have a passport, since the ID card issued to all adults is sufficient to travel within the EU. 

READ MORE: Ask the Expert: How Brexit has changed the rules on pensions, investments and bank accounts for Brits in France

DNO re-launched operations in April and since then, the company, and by extension the département – who plays a large role in funding it via a public service delegation – has been losing significant funds.

According to Franceinfo, the number of passengers has been cut in half since passport requirements were introduced. Franceinfo estimates that for one ticket for one passenger costing €30, the département spends €200.

According to Morin, the ideal solution would be to require a simple ID for tourists seeking to take just day-long or weekend-long stays on the islands – which reportedly represents at least 90 percent of the boats’ usual passengers.

“The Jersey government is working hard on the issue and is waiting for an agreement from London and the European Union. There is the possibility that things could move quickly”, Morin told Franceinfo on Tuesday.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, boats going to and from the French mainland carried at least 110,000 people per year. In 2022, only 40,000 passengers made the journey, Olivier Normand, the sales manager of Manche Îles Express, told Actu France.

Normand had expected the decline, however. He told Actu France that the company had taken a survey, which found that almost half (between 40 and 50 percent) of their clientele did not have a passport.