‘Brits get out of the EU!’: A French view on the Brexit chaos

While Westminster is in chaos three years after the referendum took place it appears some in France have had enough of the palaver and believe it's time for Britain to get out of the EU.

'Brits get out of the EU!': A French view on the Brexit chaos
Photo: InkDropCreative/Depositphotos
British MPs took part in two votes this week: one rejecting the deal negotiated by Theresa May and the EU and another rejecting a no deal, showing that despite three years having passed since Britain voted to leave the EU the country still can’t agree on what it wants.
While chaos reigns in Westminster, there appears to be little sympathy on this side of the Channel if views from a respected political commentator and France’s newspaper of reference Le Monde are anything to go by.
In an interview with L’Express newspaper, seasoned political commentator Christophe Barbier argues that Brexit needs to happen for the good of Europe and the British need to accept the deal negotiated. 
Meanwhile in an editorial in Le Monde Britain is accused of acting “like a spoiled child” with the article going on to argue that the other EU Member States need to accept Brexit is happening (you can read an extract of the article below). 
‘We don’t want the UK clinging to our ankles’: Political commentator Christophe Barbier in L’Express
“The UK is struggling to find a way to leave, and leave it must — but it would be misleading to believe that Brexit is a dead end for the EU, on the contrary.
“We offered the British a well-balanced deal which is good for the EU and deals with the main problems such as the Irish border and severs a number of ties and it is now up to the British to accept it.

UK moves towards Brexit delay as MPs vote to rule out a no-deal exitPhoto: Depositphotos

“If they do not, there are two solutions: there’s the hard Brexit which means that on March 29th, it’s all over. On March 29th if the UK leaves without a deal, then we should use our common sense which effectively means setting up borders. 

“This will cut the island of Ireland in half which is a problem but it’s the UK’s problem which it will have to manage on its own. 
“My position on Brexit is a hard one as I consider Brexit to be a good thing for the EU. It will help to rebuild a political Europe. We don’t want the UK clinging to our ankles, and have to drag it around with us anymore. March 29th has to be a clean cut. 
“However, if that doesn’t happen, the UK has other solutions at hand. If the current government does not want yet another vote on the deal and to end up accepting some version of it, the country can call a general election. A new leadership would have the legitimacy to push through the deal, or decide not to. During that time, we could imagine a sort of Brexit reprieve – a bit like a suspended sentence. 
“Few people in the EU however, share my opinion.
“Most European leaders want to find a way to make it possible to work with the UK, by allowing for certain concessions and helping the British to work towards a political solution.
“For some, this implies organising a new referendum which could lead to Brexit being cancelled all together. That would be a disaster.
“It would mean the UK has taken the EU for a ride in what will have been an extremely costly procedure for the EU in the long term and for which Europe would pay dearly on the global stage.

“It’s time for the EU to make a fresh start. And for this to happen, the British have to go. Let them go. There must be a way for the UK to understand this.
‘The British government is a spoiled child’: Le Monde (Below is an extract from full opinion piece)
The distressing performance of Theresa May’s government, shaken on Tuesday (March 12th) by a second vote of no confidence in the divorce agreement it believed it had sealed with Brussels, is a dramatic display of London’s inability to move beyond its reputation of behaving like a spoiled child — something other European countries have become accustomed to. 
From trying to reduce its share of the post-Brexit EU budget on refugees and not agreeing to join the Schengen zone, to the rejection of the euro, the British set themselves apart to the point that they believed, that after the divorce, they would be able to keep the advantages of the Union without the constraints.
The increase in the number of almost indestructible links has made the divorce terribly complicated. Having not explained to her fellow citizens that a clean break would be impossible, Theresa May finds herself at an impasse. But the 27 (other EU nations) are not responsible for the British trauma and the UK government’s inability to understand what’s happening beyond the Channel.
This is not a question of humiliating the British but it is up to them to assume the consequences of the separation. And to the other Member States to admit the appalling reality that Brexit is happening.
At the same time as many links as possible should be maintained without trying to hold on to a partner that has always been loved, but one that has decided to rebuild his life. 


Member comments

  1. These criticisms are absolutely right in every way; the British government has acted irresponsibly since the result of the referendum, firstly by choosing imbeciles like David Davies to supposedly lead negotiations – he was ineffective and totally out of his depth. After that the catalogue of ineptitude has been staggering – no wonder so many leading voices across the EU are angry, at the dithering, selfish attitude of May and company; and Labour has to share the blame for causing the confusion with the weak- willed marxist Corbyn poncing about on the sidelines. Our reputation as a nation is shattered, and will never return

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Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

After years of campaigns and promises British citizens living abroad finally won the lifelong right to vote in UK general elections in April 2022. But campaigners say more needs to be done to allow all those Britons abroad to be able cast their votes easily.

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

What’s in the law?

The Elections Act 2022 introduced several changes to the current legislation on electoral participation. Among these, it removed the rule by which British citizens lose their voting rights in the UK if they have lived abroad for more than 15 years

The new rules also abolished the requirement to have been previously registered in the UK electoral roll to become an overseas voter. In addition, the registration in the electoral roll will now last up to three years instead of only one year.

It is estimated that these changes could increase the number of overseas voter registrations by some 3 million. But the way new measures will be applied in practice is still to be defined.

READ ALSO: ‘Mixed feelings’ – British citizens in Europe finally get right to vote for life

Defining the practicalities

Under the new law, Britons living abroad will have to register to vote in the last place they were registered in the UK. This means that people who have never lived in the UK will be ineligible to vote, regardless of how long they have been overseas, while those who left when they were children will be able to use a parent or guardian’s address.

But given that the UK does not require residents to register with local councils, how to prove previous UK residence? “Typical documents accepted as a proof of residence are Council tax or utilities bills, but not everyone will have them or will have kept them in an international move,” says Fiona Godfrey, co-founder of the British in Europe coalition.

Ballot papers are pictured in stacks in a count centre as part of the 2019 UK general election. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP)

Other questions concern how people will effectively cast their ballot. UK citizens overseas will be able to vote by post or by proxy or in person at their polling station if they are in the UK at the time of the election. However, few people are likely to travel to the UK for an election and in the past there have problems and delays with postal voting.

The Electoral Commission has recommended that overseas electors appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf. But who could that be for people who have been away from their constituency for a long time?

New secondary legislation will have to answer these questions, defining how to be included in the electoral roll and how to exercise the voting right in practice.

According to British in Europe, the government should present draft legislation in the first half of the year so that the parliament can adopt it before summer and registrations of overseas voters can start in the autumn.

British in Europe survey

British in Europe are currently running a survey to understand the difficulties UK citizens abroad may face in the registration and voting process, as well as their intention to participate in elections.

The survey asks for instance which documents people can access to prove their previous residence in the UK, what problems they had voting in the past, and if and how they plan to vote in the future.

“We need to get an up-to-date picture of British citizens living around the world and have information to make recommendations to the government, as it prepares secondary legislation,” Godfrey said. “If millions of people will exercise their voting rights, there will be consequences for council registration offices, post office and authorities that will manage the process, among other things” she argued.

The right to vote concerns only UK parliamentary elections and national referendums, not elections in the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, or at local level.

The survey is open to UK citizens living anywhere in the world and is available at this link.