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Brexit: France ‘will not be intimidated’ during negotiaions with UK

France's new Europe Minister has reminded the UK that his government will not accept a Brexit "at any price".

Brexit: France 'will not be intimidated' during negotiaions with UK
Illustration pic. AFP

Clément Beaune, 38, (pictured below) took over the role of Europe Minister from predecessor Amelie de Montchalin in the recent government reshuffle.

He was described as President Emmanuel Macron's “sherpa” and “Mr Europe” for his role in accompanying the president as an advisor during EU summits.

In an interview with France Inter radio Beaune said France will continue to take a strong stance to defend its interests.

“I will say one thing very simply: we will not accept a deal at any price because this is not in the interests of France or Europe,” he said.

“It’s better to have a deal, because it organises our trading relationship, it avoids having customs duties for example. We trade a lot with the UK so it’s in our interest.

AFP

Beaune said any deal must protect France and Europe's “values and rules”.

“It’s out of the question that the British should have access to our markets without respecting our rules; our health and safety, food and environmental standards.”

On the thorny issue of fishing the junior minister said France would give no ground.

“We will always be uncompromising with regard to protecting the interests of our economic sectors, such as fishing, both for France and for Europe.

“So, it’s better to have a deal and we’re giving ourselves the best chances of obtaining one. We still have a few weeks to negotiate it. But it’s better to have no deal, than a bad deal.

“But we must not let ourselves be intimidated,” Beaune added.

“I want to tell fishermen and farmers and other sectors that we won't be intimidated when it comes to defending our essential interests.”

 

 

Member comments

  1. Interesting words from the new minister – however allowing the French Fishermen the same access as they have now is not likely to happen – besides a lot of the fish caught is exported back to the uk (cod for example). It is a mad situation that fish in UK waters are landed in France and then transported to the UK and the UK has to buy them with marked up cost. Hardly a green process. If France really wants a deal it will have to except some sort of compromise – its either that or no deal and no access to UK waters, and i cannot see how that will be in the French fisherman interests to have no access

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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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