France’s foreign minister says no-deal Brexit now ‘most likely’

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Tuesday that he considered a no-deal Brexit "the most likely scenario" as Prime Minister Boris Johnson pressed ahead with his quest to leave the EU on October 31st, with or without a divorce agreement.

France's foreign minister says no-deal Brexit now 'most likely'
France's foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. Photo: AFP

“It's the most likely scenario,” Le Drian told reporters in Paris when asked about the prospect of Britain crashing out of the union without a deal  on the movement of goods and people in and out of the Europe.

Le Drian said “there will be drawbacks, that's inevitable”, citing fisheries as one of the issues that could cause tensions between Britain and France.

READ ALSO LATEST The ultimate no-deal Brexit checklist for Britons living in France

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the House of Commons, where he faces rebellion from his own MPs. Photo: AFP

But even if Britain's 46-year membership of the EU does come to an abrupt halt next month, Le Drian said: “There will have to be discussions at some point, even if only about landing airplanes and the Eurostar (cross-Channel rail service).”

He also repeated France's opposition to any further postponement of Britain's departure date, barring a game-changing event in British politics  such as early elections.

His remarks came as Johnson engaged in a showdown on Tuesday in parliament with opposition MPs and Conservative Party who are trying to prevent him taking Britain out of the EU without a deal.

Johnson on Monday repeated his determination to leave the EU on October 31st “no ifs or buts.”

Member comments

  1. A tad harsh, Boggy.
    With things changing by the moment, it’s asking a bit much of a small scale publisher to digest, write a response, and promulgate the news before the lights have gone off.
    Anyone can tap into social media sites and get a ‘latest’ version of events, but rarely are these versions either accurate, factual, or informative. Of course, this doesn’t stop people forwarding such speculation or nonsense to everyone on their contact list.
    At times like these; it beholds us all to give a little air to any statement, proclamation, or opinion before accepting it as anything other than subjective.
    Facts, on the other hand, are precious. They are imperative to good decision making.
    By definition all reporting is history and history is both dynamic and subject to change. Rarely does history prove to be without nuance.

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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.