With our plans to move to France we have closely watched the negotiations between Cameron and the Europe. Now a date has been set there are, of course, four questions that loom over us.
Will we Brexit?
Would that be good?
If we do, what happens to the English living in France?
How are the French responding to all of this?
You may think that the fourth question isn’t an ‘of course’; but it really is. It’s an ‘of course’ because when you move to a country you must build relations as an outsider. This always involves cultural baggage, and you want to minimise the negative aspects. I have witnessed first hand the generous nature of the French welcoming people from outside through my parents move to Normandy. But when times are tough things can get tricky – for God’s sake, we don’t want the animosity left over from the recent Scottish referendum to be replicated!
So out of curiosity, and completely un-scientifically I grant you, I’ve been reading a left, Libération, and right wing, le Figaro, newpaper’s arguments along with the comments sections underneath. The comments sections are often the most illuminating don’t you think?
A brief overview of the responses are as follows; but please take into account that there were only 16 responses at the time of writing on the Libération article, so this is perhaps more representative of the right wing view.
‘Good for the Brits, when will we get our turn?’
I was actually really surprised by this as I was secretly afraid of the toxic environment the Scottish referendum had last year and how there seemed to be a considerable number of people who responded with the feeling of – well stuff you then! Remember when Andy Murray came out for the Scots to leave? 😖
My fears were based on the statements in our press attributed to Hollande and the belief that the remainder of the Europe would see it as England trying to get special treatment. Whereas what came across again and again were the French people’s fears that the EU was not working and they wanted their opportunity to make a similar decision too.
The majority of the responses to this kind of statement weren’t an argument against the sentiment, but repeated statements that France did get their opportunity to vote, they voted ‘No’ to further integration but, in the words of one commentator, Sarkozy voted ‘Yes’.
A minority of responders where basically -‘ Screw the Brits, we’re better off without them anyway.’
This was the response I was afraid of. However, having read pages and pages of comments this sentiment was very much in the minority in Le Figaro, and in the smaller sample of Libération too.
What was satisfying was that whenever this sentiment was displayed there were several responders defending the British and not supporting the original responder. Phew!
The argument against this was clearly made – the Brits give in more money than we do, so if they go it will effect us more negatively! Nice to be appreciated, huh?
There was just just one commentator that I’ve read over five pages which was – ‘They only come and take our jobs anyway, good riddance. We can send them all back.’
Literally one responder that I read over five pages. That’s good, huh? Again, several responses and all not supporting the op, but stating clearly that there are far more French people working in England than visa versa who are all earning better money than in the France. Their fear was what would happen if they got sent back in a tit for tat response?
This last point is especially comforting if you’re an ex-pat Brit somewhere in Europe and you’ve been listening to what I’m calling Project Fear. I’ll be writing about possible responses to a Brexit in coming posts, but I’m getting a bit mad at this scaremongering already. My mum was really worried speaking to me about this yesterday. These posts show something which my previous research over the situation highlighted should a Brexit happen – the mass ejecting of British people from the EU zone is highly unlikely just because of this point.
If you’re worried tonight bear this in mind.