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'They enrich France': French minister tries to reassure Brits over Brexit

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'They enrich France': French minister tries to reassure Brits over Brexit
Amélie de Montchalin took over as France's Europe Minister in April. Photo: AFP
12:21 CEST+02:00
France's Europe minister has tried to reassure Brits living in France that their futures are 'secure', describing their presence in the country as one that 'enriches' France.
"It enriches France to have these people in our country and we want to reassure them," Amélie de Montchalin told The Local in a meeting of the Anglo-American Press Association of Paris.
 
"We are not trying to get revenge [for Brexit],"  the 33-year-old politician said. 
 
The social rights, working rights, and future security of Brits living in France in the case of a no-deal has been assured by all the work that was done by the French parliament, the minister said, referring to the recent decree which lays out the rights of British people if Britain crashes out of the European Union without a deal.  
 
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In order to "access for example the residence permits, the rule is that you have at least the income level of the RSA (Revenu de solidarité active - a type of social welfare available to those on low income), and we know that the RSA is accessible to anyone who has been in France for three months.
 
"So that means that all British who have been in France for at least three months and meet those criteria can have a stable and solid residence permit in France in the case of a no-deal exit," she said. 
 
The Europe minister went on to say that she understood that British people who live in France are going through a stressful period when decisions that will affect their lives are being made without their say. 
 
"These are life choices that are personal, and that are subject to hazards that are political and sometimes far beyond you as a person. So our message is that we are working pragmatically ahead of time.
 
"I think we have looked at a lot cases of possible outcomes, and we are still in very close contact with the consulate and the British embassy. I've frequently seen the ambassador to sort out some very specific cases."
 
The relatively unknown de Montchalin took over the post as "Madame Brexit" from Nathalie Loiseau, who quit her job to lead Macron's party in the European election campaign back in April. 
 
As an MP, De Montchalin had been personally involved in securing the rights of British citizens who work as civil servants in France. 
 
"I worked on the issue of the rights of public servants from Britain when I was an MP, making sure they would be able to retain their rights, status, their jobs. 
 
"That was for those who are here now - for the future we will see, but at least those who are working here today will have no change in their situation."
 
Why we're marching: Scores of Brits in France head to London to demand People's Vote on BrexitIllustration photo: British citiizens living in mainland Europe take to the streets of London to demand a People's Vote. AFP
 
The minister also highlighted that investments are being made that will help make life in France easier for some British people living here. 
 
"There are some investments that are being made in France at the moment in bilingual schools, international high schools, etc., which are beneficial to them, and to all the world," she said. 
 
The deal 
 
De Montchalin also insisted there was no alternative to Theresa May's withdrawal deal.
 
"If the United Kingdom wants to leave the union and to leave in an orderly fashion, the deal on the table is the deal we negotiated over two years," she said. 
 
De Montchalin said Johnson, Hunt "and all the others", including the opposition Labour and Liberal Democrats, were "welcome" to negotiate with the EU on the declaration on future UK-EU relations that accompanied the Brexit deal.
 
But "to reopen the withdrawal agreement, the position of the Council (of EU leaders) is very clear, it's: 'no'," she said, echoing remarks last week by European Council president Donald Tusk and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker.
 
EU leaders have been at pains to conceal their dismay at the prospect of Johnson, a Brexit hardliner accused of grossly misleading voters about the repercussions of quitting the EU, becoming Britain's next leader.
 
On Friday, Johnson was again at the centre of controversy after it emerged that footage of him calling the French "turds" while foreign minister was cut from a BBC documentary at the request of his office.
 
The comments referred to France's Brexit stance, the Daily Mail reported on Friday, citing a confidential government document.
 
De Montchalin refused to comment on the reported remarks, which Johnson said Friday he had "no recollection" of making.
 
"I prefer not to comment on words I don't understand because they were not part of the vocabulary I learned in school," De Montchalin said.
 
She added France and the EU would work "with whichever prime minister is chosen by British institutions."
 
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Roy Smith - 03 Jul 2019 08:09
Interesting juxtaposition: on the same screen a French minister saying "the Brits enrich France" (Why, thank you Ma'am) while an ex-Foreign Secretary & wannabe PM casually called the French 'des crottes' (in AngloSaxon in the text). Because she's a lady? Because she's French? or because she's refreshingly old-fashioned in these times reminiscent of the 1920s?
alan stuart - 01 Aug 2019 08:58
In the UK, EU citizens have only to answer 3 questions to register their right to remain after Brexit. If the French minister truly believes what she says about the Brits being valued, perhaps France could mirror that kind of customer friendly approach.
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