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BREXIT

Britain’s likely next Prime Minister Boris Johnson calls French ‘turds’ over Brexit

The man who looks highly likely to be the next British Prime Minister has reportedly been filmed making an expletive laden rant about the French, in which he blames France for 'sabotaging' Brexit.

Britain's likely next Prime Minister Boris Johnson calls French 'turds' over Brexit
Boris Johnson. Photo: AFP

Boris Johnson, the current frontrunner in the leadership race to take over from Theresa May as Prime Minister, was filmed making the remarks as part of a documentary about his time as foreign secretary.

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The remarks are unlikely to be well received at the Elysées Palace. Photo AFP

In the film, parts of which were not broadcast, Johnson also accuses the French of “shafting Britain” over Brexit, before referring to “French turds”.

His remark was eventually cut from the finished version of the documentary, after the British Foreign Office told the BBC that it could cause “significant damage” to Britain.

One French journalist on Twitter sarcastically commended Johnson for raising “the quality of the political debate”, whilst posting a famous picture of the former Mayor of London stuck on a zip wire.

 

The remarks are likely to enrage the French government, which was already running out of patience with repeated Brexit delays and has taken a firm line on any further extensions to the current Brexit deadline of October 31st.

France has repeatedly said that it wants a warm relationship with Britain after it leaves the EU.

READ ALSO: And here's what the French think of Boris Johnson

 

But as the process has dragged on and two deadlines came and went without Britain leaving, the French government has become more impatient.

At the crunch EU summit in which Theresa May was granted another extension until the current deadline of October 31st, Macron was pushing hard for a shorter extension period.

His stance put him on collision course with German chancellor Angela Merkel, who favoured a longer extension period, and the two have admitted that they are 'not on the same page' over Brexit.

Even after the extension was granted, Macron has continued to insist that this time, it must be the final deadline.

The famously Europhile president is reportedly frustrated that Brexit is distracting the EU from his own plans for reform of the institution.

“I was always pictured as the bad guy in the room… I endorse such a role because I think it is a big mistake to procrastinate,” Macron told a gathering of international banking chiefs at the Elysee Palace in Paris in June.

He may be happy to be called the bad guy, but whether he is willing to accept being described as a turd remains to be seen.

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BRITS IN EUROPE

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.

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