Where in France you can protest against Brexit this weekend

Brits in France who want to protest against the UK’s imminent departure from the EU have several events they can attend on Saturday, October 19th.

Where in France you can protest against Brexit this weekend
Photo: Remain in France Together (RIFT)

As Boris Johnson attempts to get his newly EU-approved Brexit deal through Parliament on Saturday, Brits in France will be simultaneously taking part in protests calling for the UK’s exit from the EU on October 31st to be revoked, their rights to be protected and for a second referendum to be put to the people.

The main Brexit protest in France this weekend will be held in Place Saint Augustin in Paris on Saturday.

Hosted by Liberal Democrat representatives in France, the “Stop Brexit – Cross-Party Peaceful Demonstration” will run from 1pm to 5pm “to give people a final say on Brexit – and an option to remain in the EU”.

“The current government are making a mess of Brexit and the Liberal Democrats believe that any form of Brexit would be terrible for our country,” event organisers wrote on Facebook.

“That's why we're leading the way in stopping Brexit altogether.

“Whatever your politics though, if you believe Brexit isn't right for Britain's future, then you should be able to stop Brexit and remain in the European Union. Join us and let your voice be heard! The demonstration will be held in line with those being held across the UK. #StopBrexit #RevokeArticle50.”

If you’re interested in taking part, join the gathering outside Saint Augustin church in Paris’s 8th arrondissement at 1pm.

Another Brexit protest in France will be held outside the EU Parliament in Strasbourg at 2pm on Saturday.

“Whether you want to show your support for Europe and the EU, voice your opposition to Brexit, express your wish for a People’s Vote, demonstrate your concern about no deal or Boris or anything similar, then please come along,” reads the announcement for the “March for Europe Strasbourg” protest.

If you’re interested in taking part, “assemble outside the European Parliament from 2pm, with departure at 2:30-3pm”. Take an umbrella as rain is forecast.

Across the Channel in London hundreds of Britons living in the EU are expected to join a march through the UK capital to demand that the British public is given a final say on Brexit. 

Citizens rights group Remain in France Together (RIFT) and campaign group Europeans United are calling on as many Brits as possible to make the trip from France to join the “Let us Be Heard People's Vote” march.

“The organisers are expecting huge numbers of people as this may be the final protest before the expected day to exit Europe on October 31st,” RIFT representatives have said. 

“The march although huge will be extremely good natured and well-organised.”

European Union leaders endorsed a hard-fought Brexit deal with Britain on Thursday, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces an uphill battle getting it through the British parliament.

“It looks like we are very close to the final stretch,” EU Council President Donald Tusk told reporters after the other 27 leaders approved the deal.

But despite optimism from Johnson, British opposition parties and some of the prime minister's own allies in the House of Commons were quick to warn they would not support it when it goes to a vote in a special sitting on Saturday.

If the deal is defeated, the prime minister is legally obliged to ask EU leaders to postpone Brexit for a third time – breaking his vow to lead Britain out on October 31st.

READ ALSO REMINDER: What the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement means tor Brits in France

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France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Visits to the Channel islands from France have halved since Brexit, and French local authorities say they may be forced to cut the regular ferry service, asking for the passport requirement to be waived for French visitors.

France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Travel to and from the Channel islands – which are British crown dependancies – has reduced significantly since Brexit, when passports became a requirement for those travelling in and out of the islands and their ports.

Now the president of the local authorities in the Manche département of France has asked that passport requirements be lifted, with hopes of increasing travel to and from the islands.

Jean Morin told Ouest France that there has been a “considerable reduction in the number of passengers on routes between the Channel ports and the islands” and as a result the ferry service between France and the islands was seriously in deficit.

“On these lines, we will never make money, but we cannot be in deficit”, explained the Morin. 

He added that if a solution is not found by the deadline of May 1st, 2023, then local authorities will stop funding the shipping company DNO, which runs the Manche Îles Express ferry service.

“If the passport requirement is not lifted by then, we will have no choice but not to renew the service contract for 2024-2025”, Morin told Ouest France.

Only around half of French people have a passport, since the ID card issued to all adults is sufficient to travel within the EU. 

READ MORE: Ask the Expert: How Brexit has changed the rules on pensions, investments and bank accounts for Brits in France

DNO re-launched operations in April and since then, the company, and by extension the département – who plays a large role in funding it via a public service delegation – has been losing significant funds.

According to Franceinfo, the number of passengers has been cut in half since passport requirements were introduced. Franceinfo estimates that for one ticket for one passenger costing €30, the département spends €200.

According to Morin, the ideal solution would be to require a simple ID for tourists seeking to take just day-long or weekend-long stays on the islands – which reportedly represents at least 90 percent of the boats’ usual passengers.

“The Jersey government is working hard on the issue and is waiting for an agreement from London and the European Union. There is the possibility that things could move quickly”, Morin told Franceinfo on Tuesday.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, boats going to and from the French mainland carried at least 110,000 people per year. In 2022, only 40,000 passengers made the journey, Olivier Normand, the sales manager of Manche Îles Express, told Actu France.

Normand had expected the decline, however. He told Actu France that the company had taken a survey, which found that almost half (between 40 and 50 percent) of their clientele did not have a passport.