Why would the French be jealous, resentful and fearful of the British?

Why would the French be jealous, resentful and fearful of the British?
Photo: AFP
A France-bashing article in the pro-Brexit Daily Mail newspaper has sparked ridicule, not least for the fact it stated "the French peer across the Channel at the British with jealousy, resentment and fear". It's more like pity at the moment, writes Ben McPartland.

The French president Emmanuel Macron was always going to end up an arch-enemy of the pro-Brexit British press.

His desire for deeper European integration doesn't quite fit with the desire by Britain's Brexit cheerleaders such as the Daily Express and the Daily Mail to see the UK wash its hands of the EU as soon as possible.

So the Daily Mail's latest attack on the French President, by columnist Dominc Sandbrook shouldn't come as a surprise.

Sandbrook was particularly unhappy about Macron's alleged plan to block Britain's departure from the EU so that the country would simply have to reverse its decision through a second referendum. 

Macron was a “foreign bully” and a “Parisian pygmy” and “a classic over-privileged Gallic politician”, who would meet his downfall at the hands of the British just like his hero Napolean did at Waterloo and Trafalgar, the writer said.

Yes, absolute xenophobic 'drivel' as many people pointed out.

The writer also seemed bizarrely taken a back and angered that France's Europe Minister Nathalie Loiseau for suggesting that a no-deal would be better for France than a deal that would penalise French businesses – making reference to Theresa May's so-called Chequers plan that the EU has rejected.

Has he forgotten that there are two sides involved in the Brexit talks? Just like the British Prime Minister Theresa May, who coined the phrase “no deal is better than a bad deal”, the French are simply looking out for their interests.  

That's what happens in negotiations.

This is not the French hoping the worst for Britain or trying to punish the British people, it's just the French making sure they limit the negative effects of Brexit.

There is the view in Britain that the French are trying to profit from Brexit at the UK's expense. But the French are entitled to protect their interests and also compete with other EU nations like Germany or Ireland for the potential benefits of any fallout, hence their attempts to make Paris a more attractive place for bankers than Frankfurt or Dublin.

 “We don't have a predatory vision when it comes to Brexit,” France's Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire told The Local recently. “It's not about taking jobs from the UK, it's about (making France) more attractive – all in the framework of fair competition.”

French are 'fearful, resentful and jealous of British'

But what was perhaps the most bizarre line of the paranoid jingoistic rant was the statement Macron was “pandering to the jealousy, resentment and fear with which so many French men and women peer anxiously across the Channel.”

Of all the French men and French women I have met, I can honestly say I have never met one who was either jealous, resentful or scared of British people.

And that was before Britain got bogged down in the shambles that has been Brexit.

Brits in France will no doubt have been asked many times by their compatriots back in the UK 'what the French make of Brexit?'

It's always a difficult question to answer, not because opinions are divided, but because the French just don't often talk about it.

The fact is, most of the time Britain's ungainly exit from the EU is just not top of their list of priorities and that goes for the press and the politicians too. The French people who do bring up the subject of Brexit are for the most part bemused, confused and relieved they are not the country ripping itself apart.

That view was shared by many on Twitter, with one person summing the French view up perfectly.

“They just don't get it. It's just one of those odd English things, like cricket, jelly or Morris dancing,” said Kevin Harigan.

As Brexit reaches its denouement over the coming weeks and months before Britain and the EU go their separate ways on March 29th, French interest will no doubt increase, but Dominic Sandbrook, the Daily Mail and people in Britain should know that it won't be provoking any fear, resentment or jealousy on this side of the Channel.

Pity, perhaps.


Member comments

  1. Really people in France dont care as much as people in uk do. Is just like what a stupid choice they make and just another day. UK is not the centre of the world anymore wake up people.

  2. Seriously that writer believes French are jealous and fearful? haha I believe the opposite to be true When you have little cockroaches like Nigel Farrell supporting the vote for Brexit and then ditching everyone at the last minute.
    I am personally not against Brexit. On the contrary, I believe people have the right to choose their own path. But keep in mind, French (and Europeans) are in favor of a post-brexit deal. My point being: People want to leave the EU? (With or without a deal) –> Your choice! But do not for a second think the French are “jealous”. If it were true? ==> The French would be the first to encourage a no deal brexit 😉 Remember that! (A no deal brexit would make many companies want to invest elsewhere). So I don’t for a second believe the French are jealous my dear writer! 🙂

  3. This entire act of madness is nothing short of criminal. I’ve written before, many times, I consider the UK government – and parliament – to be acting criminally. They are ignoring their primary responsibility; protection of the nation and it’s people. The British people do, indeed, need to “take back control” – of their parliament.

  4. Which empire have we lost to the US ? I wasn’t aware that they had one. Where does this jerk get his info. from ? Seems that he or she has an axe to grind.

  5. So the little island in the North Sea growls. You lost the Empire to the US. Now you are losing EU. Good luck trying to establish trade deals with EU, US and your friends in India.

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