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French politicians and public bemused by ‘liar’ Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson was named as the UK's new Foreign Secretary on Wednesday, but the appointment hasn't gone down well across the Channel, with his French counterpart calling him a "liar".

French politicians and public bemused by 'liar' Boris Johnson
Will Johnson get a thumbs-up from France? We'll see... Photo: Scott Heppell/AFP

Johnson himself has close ties to France; his grandmother was half-French, he speaks the language well and once called London “the fourth biggest French city in the world”.

But he may have an uphill battle to gain popularity in France, if the reaction to his new role as Foreign Secretary is anything to go by.

“Did you see his tactics during the [Brexit] campaign? He lied a lot to the British,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said in an interview on radio station Europe 1. “Now it's he who's up against it to defend his country.”

Ayrault added: “I need a partner who is clear and reliable.”

At the time of writing, neither Francois Hollande nor Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo – who has met Johnson several times in his capacity as mayor of London – had commented on the appointment, but the French press have already begun to analyse how the news may affect the upcoming Brexit negotiations, as well as general relations between Britain and France.

Le Figaro suggested that Jonson's role as Foreign Secretary might “lessen his influence on the negotiations with the EU”, and described him as a “pure product of the British conservative aristocracy, developed and trained to govern”, saying that he appears to be “guided by opportunism”.

France Inter referred to the former journalist as “the giant with the mop of hair”, adding that he was “known for his blunders” and has always “preferred to sacrifice diplomacy for the sake of a good turn of phrase”, noting his comparison between the EU and the Nazi party during the referendum campaign.

As for the reaction on French social media, it was mixed, with most users expressing bemusement at the news.

 

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TRAVEL NEWS

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. 

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