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How Britain betrayed Macron The President's relationship with Boris is beyond repair

"She's just a friend!" (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)


November 3, 2021   5 mins

There are plenty of votes in France in bashing Muslims, bashing Brussels or bashing America. There are even some in bashing Germany. But there are none in bashing Britain.

Many votes in France turn on immigration, jobs, education or agriculture. There are few to be won or lost on sea fishing (which is 0.06% of the French economy).

Why then has President Emmanuel Macron gone out of his way to pick a quarrel with Britain over, at most, 180 fishing licences for French boats in English and Channel Islands waters? The simple answer to the question is: “He hasn’t.”

The British media — encouraged by the British government — has worked itself into a self-pleasing froth of Macronphobia in recent days. There are, of course, elements of French policy and behaviour which deserve criticism in this fundamentally silly dispute (silly to all but a handful of French fishers and their families). The same can also be said of some aspects of the British government’s behaviour — and its frequently misleading communication — on the Great Franco-British Fish War of 2021.

The French presidential elections on April 10 and 24 may be in the back of Macron’s mind as he fights, as he sees it, to prevent Britain from unravelling the Brexit agreement that it signed only 11 months ago. But it is fatuous to suggest — as parts of the UK media and the some members of the UK government do — that the whole row has been confected by Macron to appeal to French Anglophobes (who are a very tiny constituency) or the mighty French fishing vote (a few thousand people at most).

The licensing row directly affects, overall, fewer than 200 French boats and 1,000 people whose catches of fish and shellfish are worth €6m annually – 0.0000025% of French GDP. The economic implications for Britain are close to zero. They are scarcely bigger for the Channel Islands (many of whose fishermen are supportive of the French claims).

It is a small, very messy, very technical dispute which could be solved, with goodwill on all sides, in an afternoon; it may be resolved tomorrow when the British Brexit minister, Lord Frost, meets the French Europe minister, Clément Beaune, in Paris.

On Monday, Macron pulled back from the brink of an explosive trade war with Britain. He suspended until Friday his threat to block British fishing boats from selling their catches in French ports and, worse, imposing full-scale customs checks on all trucks crossing the English Channel. The political body language on both sides suggests that a deal is close — though it could yet slip through the net.

Why has such a small quarrel become so huge? The simple answer is that it is part of a pattern of deteriorating post-Brexit relations between Britain and France — quarrelsome neighbours at the best of times.

Johnson knows that sticking it to the French is always an excellent tactic in a time of crisis. Meanwhile, Macron has been determined, partly for electoral reasons but mostly from personal conviction, to ensure that Britain does not slide out of its Brexit commitments. His aim is not to “punish” Britain, but to ensure that Britain should not be allowed to leave the EU and keep the benefits of staying in.

This was the argument made in a clumsily written letter to the European Commission last week by Macron’s Prime Minister, Jean Castex. It was mistranslated and misconstrued — as “lets damage the UK all we can” — by both the British government and much of the British media.

There have been several nadirs in Anglo-French relations in my almost quarter century living in and writing about France: mad cow disease, foot and mouth, Jacques Chirac’s refusal to join Tony Blair in the second Iraq war. But the tone of this year’s Franco-British quarrels have been nastier than any of those which came before. Both leaders are partly to blame. They have encouraged, or allowed, the disputes to become too personal.

In the case of Macron, the animus, I believe, is not against Britain. It is against Boris Johnson. Macron detests populism but he has a moth-like attraction to populists, which usually goes astray. Macron once thought that he could charm and handle the British leader, just as he once thought that he could schmooze Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump.

Downing Street says that the two men are “pals”. Nonsense. Neither Johnson nor Macron has pals. The French president has come to think of Johnson, Elysée sources say, as an unreliable but crafty buffoon. In other words, he has allowed the British leader to get under his skin.

Macron is leader of one of the world’s richest and most powerful countries, but he has only just over four years’ experience as a politician — let alone as a statesman. And as Macron’s recent decision to call Australia’s Prime Minister a liar shows, sometimes that lack of political education shows. Macron may be right about Scott Morrison. Many Australian politicians and officials would agree with his criticism of the AUKUS deal. But the President came over as being petty and lacking emotional control.

Something similar happened earlier this year when Macron made slighting remarks to foreign journalists on the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine on the elderly. Macron was angry with AstraZeneca at the time for failing to meet its commitments to supply the EU-27 — while providing plenty of doses for the UK.

Macron does not do “palliness” but he does do pique. The standard British view — that he has sought cross-Channel quarrels from the beginning — could not be more wrong. His anger is driven by disappointment and a sense of betrayal. He had hoped that France, as a neighbour and important military partner, would play the key role in keeping Johnsonian Britain in the European orbit.

Instead the last ten months have been scarred by a succession of Anglo-French disputes, starting with big tail-backs of trucks in England in January after France imposed strict Covid controls on travel across the Channel. There was then the row over Astra-Zeneca supplies. Then Britain accused France in July of failing to stop illegal migrants from crossing the Channel in small boats. The French retorted that Britain had promised to pay for extra police on the Calais side of the water but never handed over the money.

Britain also imposed harsh controls on travellers from France in the summer — on the bizarre grounds that a new variant of Covid was raging in the French Indian Ocean island of Réunion. The Australian submarine row merely plunged their relationship to new depths. The French government accused Britain of being an “opportunistic fifth wheel”, while Johnson responded in French-baiting franglais: “Donnez-moi un break.”.

And so to the great fish row. France does have a case. The UK also has a case. Both have acted badly. The British and Jersey governments, by imposing strict proofs of past fishing on small boats, are trying to claw back some of what was lost in the fisheries part of the Brexit negotiations. France has turned too rapidly to disproportionate threats — such as cutting the power cable from Normandy to Jersey (a threat now withdrawn). The blocked licences are not of enormous economic interest but Macron is convinced that they fit a pattern of Johnsonian Britain trying to slide out of its Brexit commitments.

Was next April’s election also an issue? Perhaps at the margins. The President is doubtless anxious but his electoral position is the strongest for a sitting president in 20 years. His approval ratings are in the low 40s, high for a late term French president. The French economy is booming, growing 3% in the third quarter and likely to approach 7% in 2021 as a whole — the best among large and medium EU economies.

If Macron had electoral motives in the fisheries row, they were defensive, not proactive. He would certainly have been attacked by his rivals if French interests were seen to be steamrollered by Britain.

The big question is what happens next. Macron has come to believe that negotiation with Johnson is pointless without threats. If Britain does back down and issue more fishing licences this week, he will assume that this judgement is correct.

Things could still go wrong. The talks could collapse. Macron would then be obliged to give Johnson what Johnson (maybe) wants: a mega-row with France on which all of Britain’s post-Brexit ills can be blamed.

More likely the dispute will be resolved, or sent for arbitration. That could be the occasion for a new push to improve Franco-British relations across the board.

But even if the Fish War is ended, I suspect it won’t be the last post-Brexit, Franco-British row. Despite their surface chumminess at the COP26 conference on Glasgow, relations between Johnson and Macron have gone past the point of repair.


John Lichfield was Paris correspondent of The Independent for 20 years. Half-English and half-Belgian, he was born in Stoke-on-Trent and lives in Normandy.

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Billy Bob
BB
Billy Bob
2 years ago

So France imposes extra checks on trucks causing massive tailbacks, France starts a row with Astra Zeneca because the EU bungled it’s vaccination rollout, France picks a fight with Australia because it looked elsewhere after its submarine procurement was years late and over budget, France picks a fault with Britain because its fishermen have decided they don’t need to follow the same rules regarding licences as everybody else, yet somehow this is all Britains fault?
I also take issue with the line about Macron resenting populist, seeing as he is the biggest populist around currently. He won the presidency despite never being in office and with a brand new party, which to me is about as populist as they come especially compared to a career politician such as Johnson

Ian Barton
IB
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Indeed …
Amongst the many one-sided elements on this piece, the author conveniently fails to mention that Britain added harsh controls on U.K/France travellers only after France refused to accept the identical AZ vaccine produced in India.
When they dropped this ludicrous stance, Britain immediately dropped their restrictions.
Its hard to tell whether the author is naive or disingenuous or both.
PS – I ended up having to pay an extra £150 on tests during that particular spat, but considered it an acceptable overhead that was required to put “la petite” back in his box for a while.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Barton
Liam O'Mahony
LO
Liam O'Mahony
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I guess that’s what you British call a balanced view is it? God knows Unherd is not renowned for it’s balance but you bring the notion of balance to a new low. I’m not saying you don’t have a few points but you choose to put them in a way so one-sided it’s like Etonian schoolyard bullying! Trop Johnsoneaque je pense?

Katharine Eyre
KE
Katharine Eyre
2 years ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

I think, if my memory serves, that Billy Bob is actually from New Zealand…

Ted Ditchburn
TD
Ted Ditchburn
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Spot on…. casting shade at the AZ vaccine was beyond stupid. He piggybacked on a Made in Brussels story, conveyed by friendly German newspapers whose excuse for the mistake, confusing an 8% figure, was insulting really.
This is the vaccine that should be THE most efficient and effective for the developing world being a) Not-For_Profit and b) not needing ridiculous levels of refrigerator.

His outburst fuelled anti-vaxxers and doubters, and I think it still does.
And I feel he was responsible for tardiness and delay in Europe in Europe trying to hold on for French contenders the Pasteur Institute and Sanofi neither of which made it (Sanofi partnering with UK’s GSK).

It stank,and still does, and to put this down to inexperience is ludicrous and nobody misunderstood or mistranslated the Castex letter. Other than this article, because he did say, in a confidential , secret email that the EU should side with France to *demonstrate* Brexit has damaged the UK.

I think it is a very poor article.

Wilfred Davis
WD
Wilfred Davis
2 years ago

A compelling article by John Lichfield, which has given me pause for thought. Contrary to what we have been given to believe – on zero evidence – President Macron bears us no ill will. The President has not gone out of his way to pick a quarrel with Britain.
 
After all, he has pulled back from the brink of an explosive trade war with Britain. He suspended until Friday his threat to block British fishing boats from selling their catches in French ports and, worse, imposing full-scale customs checks on all trucks crossing the English Channel. Got that? Suspended until Friday. What a great bloke!
 
France has turned too rapidly to disproportionate threats — such as cutting the power cable from Normandy to Jersey (a threat now withdrawn). Threat withdrawn, see? Cheers, mate!
 
And all this nonsense about the French Prime Minister wanting to harm Britain? No, no, no. His letter was mistranslated. All he wants [quoting from his letter of 28 October to the President of the EU Commission] is that EU public opinion be shown clearly ‘qu’il y a davantage de dommages à quitter l’Union qu’à y demeurer’. Just ‘indispensable’ information for the European public: it’s more damaging to leave the EU than to stay in it. And how could there be any harm in that?

David McDowell
DM
David McDowell
2 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

Very good. A quite ridiculous article.

Prashant Kotak
PK
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

There is no harm in that at all. There are tears in my eyes at the sheer justness of Macron’s cause. He is, to use a phrase popular these days, one of the most marginalised, abused and vulnerable politicians in Europe today.

Mike Smith
MS
Mike Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Brutalised by his mummy – er wife, he is also victimised by Boris, Mrs Merkel etc. Now I have run out of tissue! 🙁

Ray Hall
RH
Ray Hall
2 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

Up- voted because you actually took the trouble to quote the relevant part of the letter.

Michael Chambers
BT
Michael Chambers
2 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

Macron’s view is completely reasonable. EU member states make significant budget contributions to benefit from the freedoms of the single market and customs union. We don’t any more. So if we play hardball with a view to clawing back some of these benefits for free, and the EU acquiesces, this undermines the solidarity that lies at the heart of EU membership.

Wilfred Davis
WD
Wilfred Davis
2 years ago

Thank you for your reply.

Could you please specify which benefits of EU membership the UK is trying to claw back for free?

Michael Chambers
BT
Michael Chambers
2 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

Free movement of goods

Wilfred Davis
WD
Wilfred Davis
2 years ago

Does the UK seek greater freedom to (for example) sell goods into the EU, than the freedom the EU has to sell goods into the UK?

Terry Needham
PR
Terry Needham
2 years ago

It has been a long time since I have come across such a ludicrous display of special – pleading on behalf of a client. The tears in my eyes are from laughter.

David McDowell
DM
David McDowell
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

The author belongs on the stage rather than the Old Bailey.

Prashant Kotak
PK
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago
Reply to  David McDowell

There is a vacancy at the Old Vic now Gilliam has been sacked.

David McDowell
DM
David McDowell
2 years ago

A rather silly article from a usually reliable source.
It’s perfectly obvious that Micron wants to damage Britain to discourage perceptions that leaving his precious EU could be beneficial. That’s a reasonable position to take if you regard EU existentialism as paramount. So why not just say so?
If Castex’s letter was mistranslated, why not provide a correct translation? Presumably because it wasn’t mistranslated.

Ian Barton
IB
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  David McDowell

I just spotted “Micron” instead of “Macron”.
Was that wit or spellchecking ?

Patrick Fox
Patrick Fox
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Quite fitting for his love of the French people

David McDowell
DM
David McDowell
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Quite intentional. Also use micro-Napoleon and Uranus in place of Jupiter as context permits.

Patrick Fox
Patrick Fox
2 years ago
Reply to  David McDowell

John Litchfield being a reliable source when it comes to France and the French is rather questionable when you happen to live in France. His paper on Marseille was so far from what people living in Marseille like me for nearly 40 years believe and live !!
He has been swimming for the past 25 years in the « Parisien » backwaters of the self proclaimed social liberal journalistic elites who believe they hold the truth and that any person from outside the périphérique is ignorant and that their weekly escapades to their cosy houses in Normandy make them knowledgeable on the french. The local French living in his village in Normandy probably take him for the nice Brit living abroad as they ignore his writings as he is not known in France outside said backwaters (marigots in French).
John Litchfield’s obsequiousness to Macron and his supporters ( and to François Holland previously and Anne Hidalgo) not to forget the EU is somewhat nauseating no wonder people like Le Pen and Zemmour are rising in France and the Gilets Jaunes ( John wrote an empathic piece on them from the comfort of his cosy appartement in his elite neighbourhood) as a reaction to this parisien elite. Of course if he’d wrote anything different he would immediately be banned from all those circles and their between ourselves social life so his life in France apart from the O’Sullivan pubs in Paris ( he knows) would be less inspiring but he could always go to Britain,Ireland or Belgium . My guess is that it will not be Britain but is it important since he is the epitome of an « anywhere ».

Bruno Lucy
BL
Bruno Lucy
2 years ago
Reply to  Patrick Fox

…..and to go as far as to pick Barbier as the next Président is laughable at best. I am from Normandy and I didn’t know we were that isolated. Anyone buying a regional daily rag at his local newsstand in the province knows Barrier, although a very decent man, doesn’t stand a chance.
French are bonapartists at heart and they love the kind of silly spats king place between our 2 countries……d’or those who have nothing else to do that is.

David McDowell
DM
David McDowell
2 years ago
Reply to  Patrick Fox

Thanks for that. What you say chimes with my observations during my visits to Aquitaine. «anywhere» riffraff indeed.

Lou Campbell
LC
Lou Campbell
2 years ago

This article is well below unherd’s normal standards.
Cherry picking facts.
Dismissing Macron’s damaging lie about the Astrazeneca vaccine as he’s only been in politics for four years (and he was upset?!?) that’s the worst line… I’m sure he’s been a human for many more than that.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lou Campbell
Bruno Lucy
BL
Bruno Lucy
2 years ago
Reply to  Lou Campbell

The AstraZeneca noise was started by Angela Merkel who went as far as banning the jab for a while. That it may have been in relation with Biontech….Pfizer being German has of course nothing to do. Good riddance Merkel.
Macron, just like a good little parrot, did the same minutes after Merkel acted.
None of this makes sense. Pathetic.

Liam O'Mahony
LO
Liam O'Mahony
2 years ago
Reply to  Lou Campbell

This article is balanced: that is different to Unherd’s usual standards certainly, but only because it is better than Unherd’s usual one-sided articles which appeal so much to the bullyboy tactics of of the deplorables.

Paul Walsh
PW
Paul Walsh
2 years ago
Reply to  Lou Campbell

I quite like to hear a different viewpoint and agree Boris isn’t much better. The Astra Zeneca point was complete nonsense. Damaging the reputation of a vaccine many of the poorer countries can afford was criminal. There was no justification for his behaviour and just made me disregard the rest of the article.

Cheryl Jones
CJ
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

I couldn’t disagree with this article more.

Mel Shaw
MS
Mel Shaw
2 years ago

I am always on my guard when I see the author has worked for the Independent. In this case for twenty years. Everything seen from an anti-British, pro-EU viewpoint.

Liam O'Mahony
LO
Liam O'Mahony
2 years ago
Reply to  Mel Shaw

Is your problem with the Independent or independence I wonder?

Paddy Taylor
PT
Paddy Taylor
2 years ago

I have no great faith in our PM, myself, but in this row he is largely blameless. Your long-standing antipathy towards Boris – who you have serially criticised for his “Cake-ism” – leads you to apportion blame onto him for the current bad blood, when in this case, it is Macron – and thus France – that has brought it upon themselves. I would suggest that you, as a committed europhile, are guilty of “Gateau-isme”.
Fundamentally, France cannot be relied upon as an ally. What better demonstration of that fact could there be than Macron’s melodramatic over-reaction to the AUKUS deal, withdrawing his ambassadors from the US and Australia in a tantrum? Who in their right mind goes into a close strategic alliance (that shares military secrets and hardware – even Nuclear technology) with a country so given to fits of pique? 
Just witness all the petty acts of vindictiveness from the Elysee Palace towards the UK throughout the Brexit negotiations. These were not over substantive matters, there were no strategic advantages for the EU – indeed there was growing exasperation among EU leaders at Macron provoking the UK Govt at every turn, quite unnecessarily. Earlier in the Summer, at the G7, whilst the UK, US and Australia were discussing this new AUKUS alliance, M Macron’s energies were being directed at UK Sausages! 
France has its own Nuclear capability, but not even France’s closest allies in the “European Family” would ever trust Macron (or any of his likely successors) to act in solidarity if a “lesser” member state was threatened. France cannot even be trusted to always act in its own self-interest – when the whim and caprice of its leaders is such an enduring national characteristic.
I can understand the French being pretty furious with the Australians, they’ve just backed out of a deal that’s worth billions. But by what right are the French cross with anyone else?
They only have themselves to blame. The reason for being shut out of AUKUS is the same reason that France was not invited to share Five Eyes intel either. They are proven to be untrustworthy allies – and certainly not trusted with such sensitive information.
Any who’d decry what they see as “France-bashing”, should be honest enough to look back over the last 4 years and see how many times Macron has, quite deliberately, tried to undermine the UK. Over Northern Ireland, over Galileo, threatening energy supplies to the Channel Islands, over trade, over migrants, – even over sausages for heavens sake. And now fish.
Needlessly antagonistic – and for no other perceived benefit than to “get one over” on the British, because it plays well to a small section of his base.
Such spats are not private. They are seen and noted by other countries, other world leaders. France’s behaviour towards “allies” – both recently and historically – comes at a price. Macron and France are paying that price.
On récolte ce qu’on sème, mes amis. You reap what you sow.

Last edited 2 years ago by Paddy Taylor
Brian Burnell
BB
Brian Burnell
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

He went native a very long time ago. Now beyond redemption.

Paul Davies
PD
Paul Davies
2 years ago

So its all Britains fault – I bet you are a remainder Lichfield.

Peter LR
PL
Peter LR
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Davies

Paul, that was my thought at the bottom of it all. The main objections we have are with the NI Protocol which was punitively devised and nodded through by May.

Andrew Fisher
AF
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

But nonetheless signed by Johnson only a few months ago! No one was forcing him. There was nothing in its many problems that were not foreseeable or foreseen.

Macron has many faults, but so does Johnson, someone who consistently plays fast and loose with the truth, although he is probably hardly aware of it, all that maters to him is short term political advantage.

Liam O'Mahony
LO
Liam O'Mahony
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

By May? Are you sure? I thought May buckled under DUP pressure whereas BJ threw ’em under a bus? Either way, it’s an international agreement and the UK is not entitled to break that agreement any more than any other nation. It’s high time Britain developed a sense of fair play and ditched it’s Etonian schoolyard bullyboy tactics. You gave your word. Keep it: for once!

David McDowell
DM
David McDowell
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Davies

Remoaner

Andrew McDonald
AM
Andrew McDonald
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Davies

I like that autocorrect! 5 years on and perhaps the remainers have at last dwindled to remainders….

AC Harper
AH
AC Harper
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Davies

Lives in France, writes for the Independent and Politico.

Ian Barton
IB
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Quelle surprise 🙂

Christopher Peter
CP
Christopher Peter
2 years ago

This has to be one of the most ludicrous, disingenuous articles I’ve ever read (and up against some pretty stiff competition I might add). So this has been blown up by the British media, actively encouraged by the British government? Total, utter codswallop. So all those threatening quotes Beaune, Castex and others were fabricated? Can you point to similar sabre-rattling from the British government? Oh, but most of those threats have not been carried out (yet) or have been withdrawn – oh that’s OK then.
Sorry but there’s virtually no equivalence here. The French government have behaved in an unbelievably childish and aggressive way. I say ‘government’ rather than the French people in general, most of whom I imagine are much more sensible than their politicians.

Andrew Lale
AL
Andrew Lale
2 years ago

Everything else I’ve read on this subject disagrees with this take. Apparently people like Anne-Elisabeth Moutet and other knowledgeable commentators believe there are lots of votes in picking a fight with Britain.

JP Martin
JM
JP Martin
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Lale

Anne-Elisabeth Moutet is a much more trustworthy source about France.

Gray Rayner
GR
Gray Rayner
2 years ago

One-eyed, francophile, comedy.

Dustin Needle
DN
Dustin Needle
2 years ago

As a Leave voter and one who is interested in thoughtful articles about Macron – it’s easy if you try – I feel disappointed with this one. 
It’s a Nick Cohen-style series of cherry-picked anecdotes backed up by a dodgy conclusion – “what Johnson (maybe) wants: a mega-row with France on which all of Britain’s post-Brexit ills can be blamed.” With the word maybe doing all the heavy lifting in that sentence, and therefore the entire article. Plus an obsessive focus on allocating blame that is a trait of writers from the School of Cohen. 
As for: “French-baiting franglais: “Donnez-moi un break.” Well as Delboy (maybe) said “Quel fromage”. This is a language and culture that takes offence when someone says “Bonne Chance”. 
Macron only needs to get to the run-off to win next year’s election. To do that he needs to show a bit of leg to the right, and pushing back on border issues is red meat to them. More interestingly though, is Macron’s interest in militarising the EU’s border to the East, in the disputes between Greece and Turkey.  This is a politician who is taking an interest in the whole EU-sphere, and the border discussions ongoing need to be seen in that context as well.
“Maybe” he fancies a future as EU strongman? Which will occupy his mind as he reaches the end of his next tenure, assuming he gets the votes. To downplay the importance of the French elections in this dispute, as this article does, is nonsense. 
With the Germans opting for an empty suit to replace Merkel, I can see Macron talking tough about the UK (vote-winner) and not much about the EU (vote-loser) but only until he gets to the run-off and the shadow of Merkel on the EU recedes. Then we’ll see where his real focus is. 
“Relations between Johnson and Macron have gone past the point of repair” – really? Not in the grown-up, real world of politics.

Last edited 2 years ago by Dustin Needle
Robert Routledge
RR
Robert Routledge
2 years ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

Macron is looking at the bigger long term picture of being the first elected president of the United States of Europe in about 20 years time

Clive Mitchell
CM
Clive Mitchell
2 years ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

Is Macron grown up?

Dustin Needle
DN
Dustin Needle
2 years ago
Reply to  Clive Mitchell

I’d have to ask his Mum…

Jonathan Story
JS
Jonathan Story
2 years ago

This is a very good example of George Orwell’s proposition that British intellectuals hate their own country. backing Celtic racialists; with the help of British quislings, getting parliament to turn against its own constitutional history; one-sided fishing access demands; exclusion from research and space; permanent bad-mouthing of the UK public’s vote, abundantly applauded in the comment columns of the FT; trade war threats; a major effort to subordinate the UK as an EU colony- and its all the UK’s fault. I’d suggest that there is no need to read The Independent.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jonathan Story
Michael Joseph
MJ
Michael Joseph
2 years ago

HONK! John ‘France is a Pacific nation’ Lichfield is at it again. Please UnHerd – there’s no need for this sort of outrage clickbait. There are such interesting and informed people who could be writing about Macron and France, but you keep rolling out this crank. Enough.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
ER
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago

French Anglophobes (who are a very tiny constituency) 
Not in my experience
This article illustrates why we had to leave the EU

Last edited 2 years ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Colin Elliott
CE
Colin Elliott
2 years ago

Correspondent of The Independent for 20 years. Half-English and half-Belgian, he was born in Stoke-on-Trent and lives in Normandy.”
Lichfield is clearly loyal to France, and no doubt to the EU (does he hold an EU passport?), and no doubt reads a lot of French media. He probably reads the Independent, too, so I make allowances. Even so, the mental and verbal contortions to which he has been put are spectacular. But sad, too.

Colin Baxter
CB
Colin Baxter
2 years ago

What a load of tosh

Pete Marsh
PM
Pete Marsh
2 years ago

“Many Australian politicians and officials would agree with his [Macron’s] criticism of the AUKUS deal.”
It was the French deal that should never have been made in the first place, and deserved to be binned. They were selling Australia nuclear subs, downgraded to diesel at huge cost, to patrol the vast Pacific.

Sean McGrath
Sean McGrath
2 years ago

This is a brilliant insight into the mind of a committed Remainer. France is only good and Macron always right. Britain is the baddie, led by the oafish Boris Johnson according to the author.
Should we just go through the list of who Macron has offended and fallen out with recently:
Australia, America, U.K. … and what about his own people.? The Yellow Vests? He’s desperate for re-election as he doesn’t want to be a one term president.
Unfortunately for French President on this issue UK is in right & has stuck entirely to agreed rules.
It has been able to use satellite technology to check French claims that certain boats have fished in British waters in previous 5 years. Guess what? It has been found French fishing trawlers have been telling porkies.
Who knew?

GA Woolley
GA Woolley
2 years ago

Absurd headline, absurd column.

Zorro Tomorrow
JK
Zorro Tomorrow
2 years ago

Paris correspondent for the Independent? I thought it was a Remainiac writing. Poor Mr Macron, won’t get a second term, diddums.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
2 years ago

Johnson is a shoddy piece of work indeed, but Macron has fallen out with Algeria, Mali, Australia, and the USA as well as Britain. Are these other countries all at fault as well, or is everyone out of step except Emmanuel?

Gary Taylor
GT
Gary Taylor
2 years ago

If that’s the best argument the French have got, then I’m more supportive of Boris than I was before.

Phil Rees
PR
Phil Rees
2 years ago

Among the most blatantly biased and one-sided article UNHERD has published. Complete waste of time reading it.

Rob Britton
Rob Britton
2 years ago

What a silly, prejudiced article! As far as I am aware it is Macron and his cronies who are talking up the dispute as if they are preparing to declare war (real war – bombs and bullets). Macron is a desperate man, attacking the UK because he is panicking about his collapsing popularity.

Katy Hibbert
Katy Hibbert
2 years ago

France does have a case. The UK also has a case. Both have acted badly.

Rubbish, obviously written by a Remoaner. France has no case at all. France has acted badly. The UK has been more than reasonable.

JP Martin
JM
JP Martin
2 years ago
Reply to  Katy Hibbert

This is actually funny. On the evening news last night, a government minister (I can’t remember who but this was on France 2 at 20h) made the obvious point that the British could exclude us from their ‘exclusive maritime zone’ if they were so inclined. French fishermen need access to UK waters (this is obvious from basic geography) and we are not in a great position to criticise the British for being ‘unreasonable’.

John Urwin
JU
John Urwin
2 years ago

Could it be that what is driving Macron is a great fear that Brexit will be shown to be either not a disaster, or worse, a success? Is this why he is insistent on holding the UK to a deal under which some of the terms are disadvantageous to the UK? It is clear that there is fear in the Commission that Brexit will result in the slow unravelling of the EU. If that started, the country likely to be most damaged is France. Christopher Booker and Richard North in their book “The Great Deception” pointed out that De Gaulle kept the UK out of the Common Market until the CAP was agreed because without it France cannot afford to subsidise its most powerful lobby – the farmers. What has changed? The CAP still forms the largest single item in EU spending…to France’s benefit…

Alan Robinson
Alan Robinson
2 years ago

Hasn’t there been a great deal of French threats? THe blame is far from being on the one (British) side.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago

They should leave NI alone. We have left and NI is part of the UK. As for fish, our waters do not belong to them They should leave them alone.

Francisco Menezes
FM
Francisco Menezes
2 years ago

Apeasement was such a huge success. Do it again! The traitors are inside the British ranks.

Patrick Fox
Patrick Fox
2 years ago

John Litchfield being a reliable source when it comes to France and the French is rather questionable when you happen to live in France. His paper on Marseille was so far from what people living in Marseille like me (for nearly 40 years) believe and live !! But his idol Macron was there so that makes him knowledgeable !!! As they say in France of such characters and in a less polite way «  it is not because they have nothing to say that they keep their mouths shut »
He has been swimming for the past 25 years in the « Parisien » backwaters of the self proclaimed social liberal journalistic elites who believe they hold the truth and that any person from outside the périphérique is ignorant and that their weekly escapades to their cosy houses in Normandy make them knowledgeable on the French. The local French living in his village in Normandy probably take him for the nice Brit living abroad as they ignore his writings, he is not known in France outside said backwaters (marigots in French).
John Litchfield’s obsequiousness to Macron and his supporters (to François Holland previously and Anne Hidalgo) not to forget the EU is somewhat nauseating no wonder people like Le Pen and Zemmour are rising in France not to forget the Gilets Jaunes ( John wrote an empathic piece on them from the comfort of his cosy appartement in his elite neighbourhood of Paris where you do not need a car to shop, go to work, to the doctor, the hospital, the school, the train station …. ) in reaction to this «  Macroniste » Parisian elite. Of course if he’d wrote anything different he would immediately be banned from all those circles and their “between ourselves” social life. His life in France apart from the O’Sullivan pubs in Paris ( he knows) would be less inspiring but he could always go to Britain, Belgium or Ireland ( the spouse). My guess is that it will not be Britain but is it important since he is the epitome of an « anywhere ».

David Bowker
DB
David Bowker
2 years ago

Macron is smart enough to know that a successful and non-chaotic Brexit is a threat to the EU – other countries may want to follow us. So it is in his interests to make it as difficult and unsuccessful as possible. He and his acolytes never miss an opportunity to obsessively and repeatedly proclaim what a disaster it has been so far.
You can’t blame him for that. If you are devoted to the EU you need Brexit to be seen to fail. I would do the same in his position because the EU is fragile and the threat is very real.
AUKUS was an especially bitter blow to Macron because the French are actually very similar to us and have similar aims. But AUKUS has demonstrated we are in a much better position to realise these global ambitions, mainly because the Americans don’t trust the French.
The reality is that the UK’s and France’s interests are now opposed. Hardly surprising – just a reassertion of centuries of history. The interesting thing for me is where this leaves Sir Keir – he is either forced to defend the UK against France/EU or he appears to be a conscientious objector. Both electoral suicide.

Last edited 2 years ago by David Bowker
Jean Nutley
JN
Jean Nutley
2 years ago

Yawn.

Ian Stewart
IS
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

Jeez this is one of the worst articles for myopic one sidedness I’ve read on Unherd.
It could really have done with another writer to balance the diatribe – or maybe an editor to point out the flaws.
C’mon Unherd – you can do better analysis and commentary than this.

Malcolm Knott
MK
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago

And lest we forget, Macron’s rubbishing of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine was one of the most dishonest and irresponsible acts by any political leader in recent years. He put hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lives at risk from what this writer is pleased to call ‘pique.’

Jasper Carrot
Jasper Carrot
2 years ago

The author has gone native. I don’t recognise his belief of a well positioned President for next year, unless you are a Parisian.

Malcolm Knott
MK
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago

We don’t want to ‘leave the EU but keep the benefits of staying in.’ We want to take back control, remember? Taking back control does not mean jumping when the French say jump.

Jeff Carr
Jeff Carr
2 years ago

It is interesting to read an article representing another perception of the Anglo-French Fishing Issue. It only goes to show that two opinions can be taken from the same public events and comments including specific statements by French ministers that Brexit must be damaging to UK.
I am afraid that Macron, Merkel and VdL have caused the loss of many lives in the 3rd World because of their injudicious remarks about the AZ vaccine.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jeff Carr
Ri Bradach
RB
Ri Bradach
2 years ago

Donne-nous une break dans tes délires et retire ta tête de tes fesses avant d’empoisonner ces pixels avec ta bêtise.

Seriousment, vous est pathetic you cheese eating surrender monkey fanboy.

Mike Smith
MS
Mike Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Ri Bradach

Bonne, j’aime Franglais!

Mary Thomas
Mary Thomas
2 years ago
Reply to  Ri Bradach

Bien Monsieur, j’aime beaucoup la Franglais comme Miles Kington et vous ecrivez exactament la verite!

Linda Hutchinson
LH
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago

I think that the issue is not so much who is right and who is wrong, you can argue that there are rights on both sides, but M. Macron did rather over react. I find it difficult to believe that this could not have been solved quietly via diplomatic means, unless there is something that the public are not being told. There is a treaty,and all it needed was someone from either side looking through it and seeing what it says and how either side is in violation. If there is a problem with the wording that could lead to different interpretations then get together and clarify. To me this seems simple, it is what I would do, indeed what I have done, grand-standing on an international level does no-one any good, it’s unedifying, and I’m not sure that the French voting public will be happy, particularly if M. Macron comes off badly.

Adrian Doble
AD
Adrian Doble
2 years ago

Very funny article. Why’s he on your panel? Beano or Dandy maybe. Such crap.

Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright
2 years ago

“His aim is not to “punish” Britain, but to ensure that Britain should not be allowed to leave the EU and keep the benefits of staying in.” Actually, what benefits are we trying to keep?

George Knight
George Knight
2 years ago

The author sounds like a fully paid up member of En Marche!

Michael Chambers
Michael Chambers
2 years ago

Johnson and his govt must go down in history as the most embarrassingly inept representatives of Britain in the world for a long, long time. It’s hard to understand how quickly we have plumbed the depths of amateurism in international relations.

Matty D
Matty D
2 years ago

A really powerful, interesting read.

Patrick Fox
Patrick Fox
2 years ago
Reply to  Matty D

Interesting in what sense?

Jane Watson
JW
Jane Watson
2 years ago
Reply to  Matty D

Are you joking?

Martin Smith
MS
Martin Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Matty D

I smell irony.

Barbara Williams
Barbara Williams
2 years ago

We are going to need to learn to rise above such petty disputes if we hope to survive the Sixth Mass Extinction. Extinction rates are a 1000 times higher than at any point in our history, there is nothing in our old ways of doing business that will help us solve this riddle. We need to call and end to growth economics and learn to co-operate globally. That is if we wish to offer life-on-Earth a chance to survive the damage that we have inflicted in the last 100 years. Ecological overshoot – Wikipedia

Barry Wetherilt
Barry Wetherilt
2 years ago

‘New modelling shows The Sixth Mass Extinction will only wipe out feeble minded Climate Catastrophists experts claim’

Aidan Trimble
AT
Aidan Trimble
2 years ago

Christ, not you again.

Penelope Lane
PL
Penelope Lane
2 years ago

Macron is leader of one of the world’s richest and most powerful countries, but he has only just over four years’ experience as a politician — let alone as a statesman. And as Macron’s recent decision to call Australia’s Prime Minister a liar shows, sometimes that lack of political education shows. Macron may be right about Scott Morrison. Many Australian politicians and officials would agree with his criticism of the AUKUS deal. But the President came over as being petty and lacking emotional control.
All of the political left, and most moderate rightwing voters in Australia, thanked M. Macron from the bottom of our hearts for having the courage, discernment and ethics to call out our prime minister, Scott Morrison.
Like the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, Mr Morrison is well known to be a liar, dishonest, deceitful, cunning, and a male-sexist bully. They differ insofar as Johnson is just plain cynical and self-interested, where Morrison adheres to a corrupt and fanatical fundamentalist pentecostal cult which forms his beliefs and colours his every action. Where Johnson was a journalist, Morrison was a marketing man.
If gaining a “political education” means learning to lie, dissimulate and mislead, then we are better off if our politicians lack one.
There is nothing “petty” or “lacking emotional control” in what the French President said.
The moral and ethical corruption behind Australia’s behaviour over AUKUS is a serious affair, since the stakes —not merely shutting France out of the Anglo alliance against China, but also effectively excluding the French from Indochina and the Pacific where it has legitimate and long established interests—were huge. Anything but trivial or “petty”.
And I believe it is well known that the Latins tend to more effusive expression of feelings and emotions than the English. One man’s meat is another man’s poison. There is no valid reason why the French should be required to conform to English modes of emotional repression.

Patrick Fox
Patrick Fox
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

You may believe Macron is a latin many french believe he is just a conceited bully trowing tantrums and crying in the arms of either Brigitte, Angela or Ursula when things do nit go his way which is not really latin.
France is not as latin as you may think since it had two languages langue d’oil for the germanic north not to mention Alsace Lorraine in the East and langue d’oc for the latin south starting below Lyon. In any case they expect a bit more dignity from their President as he is supposedly representing them so acting as a spoiled brat on the international scene is not welcomed.

Penelope Lane
PL
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Patrick Fox

You do not make things true merely by repeating them ad infinitum. That is magical thinking, a characteristic of young children who have not yet developed the ability to reason.
If you choose to ignore all the arguments I made above for why M. Macron’s response was both justified and proportionate, persisting in your view that he’s a “spoiled brat”, “throws tantrums”, is a “conceited bully”, “cries in others’ arms”, and “lacks dignity”, you need to adduce some argument and supporting evidence for your view. Otherwise, it remains a purely arbitrary, subjective opinion, of little value in a serious discussion.
M. Macron is French. He lives in France. He speaks French. Modern French belongs to the Latin language group. The “Latin temperament” is a well known cultural concept. M. Macron exemplifies that temperament in his modus operandi. Being French, he is within his rights to act French, every bit as much as Boris Johnson, being English, is within his rights to behave according to the dictates of English manners.
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that your views are unfounded, bigoted, unpleasant and ethnocentric.

Last edited 2 years ago by Penelope Lane
Patrick Fox
Patrick Fox
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

I am French, I live in France, I speak French , I work in France, I vote in France, I love France and the French and I fought for France but I do not recognise myself in Mr Macron’ s way of behaving as a head of State and thus representing me and therefore I stand by what I said and many french people equally share.

I wasn’t judging your arguments just your reference to « it is well known that the Latins tend to more effusive expression of feelings and emotions than the English. »

Perhaps but a French President or any other should not, as such agressive verbal stances set bad feelings in populations who should live in good harmony and generally do.By the way his great grandfather George Robertson was British and fought in the Somme along side my grandfarther so perhaps he should be like me more considerate to the British and Australians considering the grave yards around Amiens where he was born and raised.

So if it is ok for you to qualify Boris Johnson and Mr Morrison to be liars, dishonest, deceitful, cunning, and a male-sexist bullies it is equally ok for me as a ethnocentric (as you qualify me believing probably I was British )to consider Macron to be a spoiled brat throwing tantrums, a conceited bully, crying in others’ arms, with no sufficient dignity ( not lacking as you state incorrectly) and all this based on some of his actions and verbal attacks on french people since 2017 ( the gilets jaunes amongst others) and reported in the french medias over time (These are my arguments and you are free to check for yourself)

As for your blurb on latin language thanks but I am probably better placed than you to know this . As they say in France « La culture c’est comme la confiture au moins on en a au plus on l’étale! » I am sure you understand as you seem so versed in latin languages.

Penelope Lane
PL
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Patrick Fox

Thanks for your considered reply.
I wasn’t judging your arguments just your reference to « it is well known that the Latins tend to more effusive expression of feelings and emotions than the English. »
Now I see where you’re coming from.
I do not recognise myself in Mr Macron’ s way of behaving as a head of State and thus representing me and therefore I stand by what I said and many french people equally share… a French President or any other should not, as such agressive verbal stances set bad feelings in populations who should live in good harmony and generally do.
When you put it this way, I have to agree. In fact, I actually spend vast amounts of my time trying to combat the verbal spread of bad feeling via mass media and the internet. As a French person and French resident, I certainly acknowledge your better-informed view as compared with my obtained-at-a-distance information. I have some knowledge of the gilets jaunes and similar causes, of course, but it is necessarily somewhat superficial. And you are right, I had assumed from your name plus comment that you were English.
I think my appreciation of M. Macron is rooted in two things.
First, the sheer relief of hearing a politician actually speak the plain unvarnished truth: “I don’t think, I know” he said, in relation to Mr Morrison having lied about telling him in advance about AUKUS. We all know Morrison lied through his teeth, so the French response, simply saying so, was like a beam of Englightenment light penetrating the fundamentalist pentecostal darkness of our prime minister’s mind. And of course, drawing on the American-inspired dirty-tricks bag, the following Australian leak to the Murdoch press of confidential French texts merely confirmed that M. Macron was speaking truth to power. So in that particular instance Macron was definitely doing good from our point of view downunder—I’m speaking here on behalf of those of us who value truth, that is. I don’t see that that is necessarily in conflict with poor and damaging results from M. Macron’s sometimes ill-judged domestic and other dealings.
Second, I confess to appreciating him for his choice of wife. How refreshing compared to the false plastic barbie-doll baby-women of the Anglo world! Perhaps this influenced my comment subconsciously to some degree?
Finally,
« La culture c’est comme la confiture au moins on en a au plus on l’étale! »
I confess to having had to look up étale. So, “Culture is like jam, the less you have of it, the more you have to spread it out”. But is this a rebuke to me for speaking out about things of which I know only little, or, is it a political comment on the French approach to spreading their culture worldwide, implying an ineffective or inauthentic superficiality in this endeavour?
If the latter, I would want to raise the spectre of a mono-cultural Anglo-American Pacific. Colonising Anglo-Americanism needs to be leavened with a good dose of colonising Europeanism if we are to have any hope of retaining some balance in what we are spreading over the globe. (This leaves aside for the moment the degree to which indigenous cultures need to be recognised, of course.) Anglo-Americanism has much to offer, but its dark side, its underbelly, is crazed fundamentalist hand-waving Pentecostalism. Much of the Pacific is already under the sway of this aggressively intolerant, ignorant, atavistic religious primitivism, and it has already caused major political strife in Australia. So again, I would argue, a strong French presence in Indo-China and the Pacific can only be beneficial in current circumstances.

Penelope Lane
PL
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

An afterthought: do read this article by Katherine Murphy, Guardian Australia’s chief political reporter. Regardless of whether you agree with it or not, it is a delicious read, and gives an insider’s feel for Morrison’s spat with Macron:
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/nov/06/how-scott-morrisons-cop26-climate-show-was-derailed-by-emmanuel-macron-and-the-submarine-row?utm_term=6185d3938d93a046d6c4b44b340438bf&utm_campaign=GuardianTodayAUS&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&CMP=GTAU_email

Mary Thomas
MT
Mary Thomas
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

You must be having a secret laugh, posting this silliness!

Penelope Lane
PL
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Mary Thomas

Your response is pure personal abuse. It does not belong in reasoned discussion of an issue simply to condemn someone’s contribution as “silliness”, without adducing any facts, evidence or argument to support your statement.
Does it make you feel better to put down an opinion with which you disagree in such a fact-free, opinionated manner?
I suggest you leave Unherd and go over to Twitter or Facebook, where you can abuse people to your heart’s content.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

So calling Morrison a liar isn’t personal abuse? And even if Morrison did lie, is it a good idea for the President of France to say that the Prime Minister of Australia is a liar? Strange diplomacy to add to the withdrawal of one’s ambassador.
As it happens, as someone who has had to negotiate things on a number of occasions, one can’t let the other parties to a commercial contract know everything in advance. ‘Trust’ is something else. I wouldn’t have lied, but if I were dealing with the defence interest of my country, I could do so, although I prefer to believe Morrison to Macron. Why should I not? I have found his sincerity a lot more convincing than Macron’s.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Calling Morrison a liar is telling the truth. Truth-telling is essential to positive human communication. Peaceful human society cannot be conducted without trust in what others say. And it is vital to the successful conduct of political life.
Personal abuse, by contrast, is misuse, to use someone wrongly, treat them unjustly.
Personal abuse is quite different from legitimate truthful criticism.
Truth-telling is moral behaviour; abuse is immoral behaviour.
M.Macron was calling Morrison out, not abusing him. This was not an undiplomatic thing to do; it happened because diplomacy had already broken down, because of Morrison’s behaviour. The seriousness of Morrison’s breach of diplomatic norms was shown by Macron’s withdrawal of ambassador.
Although what you say—that one cannot let the other parties to a commercial contract know everything in advance—is true in general, in this case France was not the other party to the new contract that was being negotiated. It was the party whose contract was about to be broken.
It is also true that “commercial in confidence” provisions are increasingly being abused in politics, i.e. misused as a means to keep from the public things that in a functioning democracy they have a right to know.
In this case, the Australian public had a right to be consulted before the government took such a radical step that will fix the country’s entire global strategic alignment for the foreseeable future.
Finally, you say you have found Morrison’s sincerity a lot more convincing than Macron’s. I know of no one who believes Morrison to be sincere. The gentlest analyses of his morality deem him to be “slippery”, “deceitful”, “two-faced”, “just a marketing man”, and very seriously, a devoted adherent of a fanatical extremist pentecostal cult with a history of sexual and financial misconduct and serial lying, Trumpist America’s open door into Australia, and much more along these lines. That’s just the restrained criticism that has been levelled at this man. The serious press is unanimous in condemning Morrison’s actions in the AUKUS case and agreeing with Macron’s assessment of the man’s conduct.

Last edited 2 years ago by Penelope Lane
Jacques Rossat
Jacques Rossat
2 years ago

Poor Mr Lichfield, congratulations for your courage writing such a independant thinking article in a 200% francophobic media as Unherd. Let’s hope your nuanced- yes – position rings bells in some non-posting readers….

Last edited 2 years ago by Jacques Rossat
Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
MT
Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
2 years ago
Reply to  Jacques Rossat

Thank you, Jacques! The hostility towards the French here is eye-watering. I have lived here for many decades and never once encountered the slightest anti-British feeling. On the contrary, there is great deal of good feeling, though it must be said that the French take much less interest in the Brits than the Brits seemingly take in the French….
And John is right – Brit bashing pulls next to no votes in France whereas French bashing evidently pulls in plenty of votes in GB.

Last edited 2 years ago by Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago

Au contraire – it seems …

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago

Read more closely and it is hostility towards Macron you will see.
Something that is entirely normal in France.

Patrick Fox
Patrick Fox
2 years ago

You seem very naïve, I would suggest , since you are in France like me, that you read the on line comments made by the French readers of Le Point, Le Monde, Front Populaire ….. and perhaps you would realise that the “roastbeef” bashing going back up as far as the 100 years war is as hostile as some of the comments made here.

Doug Pingel
DP
Doug Pingel
2 years ago
Reply to  Jacques Rossat

Jacques! Stop exagerating – it’s only 150%.

Patrick Fox
Patrick Fox
2 years ago
Reply to  Jacques Rossat

Why would Unherd publish such francophile pieces by such francophile character if it was so francophobe. I would rather like to believe that Unherd as a media is fairly open. You may not like the comments but you must recognise the openness of Unherd. Not sure you would find this in many french medias. Soyez bon joueur Jacques !!!

Alan Hawley
AH
Alan Hawley
2 years ago

This balanced article makes a change from the usual Froggie and Macron bashing that one sees in UnHerd.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Hawley

Feel free to pick on or more of the points raised in the comments, and start a debate on it.

Jacques Rossat
JR
Jacques Rossat
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Hawley

Hear, hear

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Jacques Rossat

Likewise – Feel free to pick on or more of the points raised in the comments, and start a debate on it.

Penelope Lane
PL
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Hawley

Agreed, the article made a refreshing read.
But I had to plough my way through an undiluted morass of Froggie and Macron bashing from commenters on this page to get to your thought. The usual dispiriting ignorant pile-on from people who belong better on Twitter.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago

Once you are out of the Union (and to some extent in it), international relations are run by naked self-interest. No suprprise there. There is a counterforce, though: the advantages of having good relations, following agreed rules, and cooperating to mutual benefit. This is something that Britain has deliberately destroyed in its relationship with the EU. Leaving unavoidably causes some breakdown – Britain wants to use its new freedom to prosper at the expense of the EU, and the EU wants to show that this does not work. This cannot be helped. But Britain’s handling of the negotiations – cutting negotiating times, refusing accommodations, constant brinksmanship, and (especially) signing agreements it never had any intention of honouring either in spirit or in letter – are the actions of a party that *wants* no cooperation, but constant fighting. Or of a party that believes, wrongly, that it is big enough to bully the other side into submission.

If normal sensible relations between Britain and France have broken down, the lions share of the blame goes to the Boris. And to the country that chose him for Prime Minister.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
AC Harper
AH
AC Harper
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

If the fishing licenses are such a small technical issue then what explains the grandstanding needed – “On Monday, Macron pulled back from the brink of an explosive trade war with Britain”?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

That goes both ways: If the fishing licences are such a small issue, why did the UK not simply grant another 30 or so, seeing as it is apparently quite important to France? Why is it so important to the UK *not* to grant them?

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Gray Rayner
Gray Rayner
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The EU in general, and France in particular, has been banging on about their requirement that Britain complies with the exact provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement in all areas. In the case of the licences, Britain has done just that. The owners of the French boats have to prove a pretty limited history of fishing in British waters in order to claim “grandfather rights.” Licences were issued to all that could. All the froth from France is seemingly because Britain will not bend the rules that France wants respected in every other case and issue licences regardless.

Andrew Lale
AL
Andrew Lale
2 years ago
Reply to  Gray Rayner

The French are famous for this trait. When its other people, every jot and tittle must be observed. When its them, meh, what rules?

Mel Shaw
MS
Mel Shaw
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

If you knew anything about the UK, you would know that we apply the rules laid down in treaties. It was our downfall when we were members of the EU. We applied directives and regulations conscientiously while others, France in particular, did when it suited them. In the present case, those denied licences cannot prove they are eligible for them.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Mel Shaw

You used to. Starting with the withdrawal agreement and the NI protocol you do not do it any more. People have noticed.

Jean Nutley
JN
Jean Nutley
2 years ago
Reply to  Mel Shaw

Absolutely so, even to the extent of the burning of straw after the harvest. It used to be a common practice, then it was outlawed by the EU. The French continued the practice, we did not.

Andrew Lale
AL
Andrew Lale
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Why is it so important that you keep your money? Give me £100 of your money. It’s no big deal. Don’t you want to be cooperative with me? That’s terrible, you must be some kind of right-wing nutter. Give me your money.

Ian Barton
IB
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Theresa May caused all of the mess that Johnson was left to sort out.
She walked the country – and its population that you eagerly dismiss – into a “surrender scenario” that could only be mitigated by the approach that Johnson took.
The U.K. population understandably did not want a repeat Chamberlain event in the 21st century – so they acted.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Barton
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

The UK wanted no restraints on goods moving into NI, no border controls between NI and the Republic, and no EU influence on UK product rules. Since this would mean free access for substandard UK products into the single market, the EU would never accept it and would prefer a trade war. Teresa May ‘surrendered’ to reality and did the best deal she could do within those limits, given that there was no majority for No Deal in parliament – or the population. Johnson preferred to sign a deal and then immediately break it, to get to No Deal by the back door, cheating both his negotiating partners and his electorate. You can call it a solution if you like, but admit at least that a trade war with the continent is an integral part of the package.

As for the ‘Chamberlain event’, Britain eventually decided that it would rather start a world war it might well lose than make a deal with the Nazis. I honour you for that, but don’t you think that comparing the EU with a Nazi-run Europe might be, well, just a little over the top? Anyway, at least show the same dignity as wartime Britain and stop moaning about how unfair it is that your opponent is fighting you.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I think you’ll find it’s more “pitying” Macron – than “moaning” about him.

Moaning about toddlers behaviour rarely achieves anything.

Best just to calmly note it – and respond in a consistent and proportionate manner

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Barton
Mel Shaw
MS
Mel Shaw
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Substandard products? Really?

Ian Barton
IB
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Mel Shaw

I know – disingenuous or what ??

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Mel Shaw

Well, yes, if the UK has the power to sell in the EU while bypassing EU checks and product standards, that is a possible outcome. It would be quite profitable to the UK too. Even short of that, the EU is not going to gift to th UK the power to decide what can be traded inside their markets.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Hopefully you meant “non-standard” which would be more accurate – and less insulting.
Unless of course you deliberately wished to offend – rather than enlighten.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

UK products are of course generally pretty good, and up until now they follow EU rules anyway. But ‘substandard’ is what the EU is afraid of and wants to prevent – and what the UK could turn a profit on. And with no EU-side checks, there *would* be free access to substandard products, should the UK decide to avail itself of the chance. OK, it might apply to the working conditions, pollution rules etc. rather than the standards of the products per se, but the answer is the same in any case: the EU would rather have a trade war than give the UK that chance.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

A good clarification – thanks.
The EU and U.K. should always be able to control “what is traded in their markets”.
There are sensible ways of doing this – and less-sensible ways.
Hopefully the current “back-office” NI talks will go a long way to achieving this.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Barton
Duncan Mann
Duncan Mann
2 years ago
Reply to  Mel Shaw

I guess the issue is that in the course of time, the products imported from the UK into Ireland (and thus the EU) could become substandard – witness the furore over chlorinated chicken or hormone impregnated beef. Whilst I agree that the EU have deliberately used the opportunity of Brexit to nudge Ireland one step closer to unity, I do have some sympathy with the view that they have to either have border controls (antithetical to the Good Friday Agreement) or have protocols in place to manage the flow of goods into NI from GB. The EU have apparently just offered to remove 80% of the restrictions inherent in the original incarnation of the latter, so it is clearly apparent that they played hardball at the outset, perhaps with a view to making a united Ireland a reality sooner rather than later.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Mann

If the EU wanted a Customs Border between Northern Ireland and the Republic to keep out ‘sub-standard goods’ they had only to explain this to the Republic and ask them, politely, to make the necessary arrangements. But that wasn’t what they wanted. Their aim was to exploit the GFA and thereby strengthen the hand of the Remainers in the hope that a second referendum would reverse the verdict of the British people. Remember, the second referendum gambit had always worked before.

AC Harper
AH
AC Harper
2 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Mann

I suspect that the EU is not afraid of ‘substandard products’ so much as cheaper, better, products that expose the EU processes as lacking.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

It is you who is making the comparison.
I merely suggested that elected politicians being submissive in the face of “bad-acting” foreign nations is not something that is considered acceptable to most of the U.K. electorate.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Barton
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Come on! What can ‘Chamberlain event’ mean? For your information, submitting to bad-acting foreign nations (like people signing a treaty and openly refusing to honour it) is not accepted in other countries either. As for existing power relations, Britain is less powerful than China, the US, and the EU. If you opt for untrammelled power games over agreed rules, you might consider this reality instead of getting upset.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

You seem to have a “power” fixation …. rather than seeing the more relevant democratic elements to this.
By the way, implying that I am upset is both groundless and futile – I’m rather enjoying myself 🙂

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Barton
Rasmus Fogh
RF
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

The problem with democracy is that you need to involve all the parties. Not long ago the Greek electorate democratically decided that the German taxpayers and banks should bail them out and forgive them their debts. The Germans had not been asked, and quite naturally declined. The British may have Democratically decided that the EU should grant them market access without strings attached, but that is really pretty worthless until you ask the EU for an opinion too.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

No such vote happened – you just made that up.

Rasmus Fogh
RF
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Which one?
Syriza in Greece was elected on a platform of debt forgiveness without austerity, which ought to count. Germany refused without a vote, but they hardly needed one. As for Britain – ewll, I may have misunderstood you. What did you mean about ‘more relevant democratic elements’, if not that Britain has democratically decided where it wants to go, and that should trump EU reluctance to comply?

Mike Wylde
Mike Wylde
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Who was it wanted to invoke article 16? Although that was to stop EU goods (substandard vaccines according to Macron) entering the UK and so presumably doesn’t count!

Penelope Lane
PL
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

As for existing power relations, Britain is less powerful than China, the US, and the EU. If you opt for untrammelled power games over agreed rules, you might consider this reality instead of getting upset.
Unfortunately, it’s a characteristic of those playing untrammelled power games that they get very upset if anyone dares challenge them.
The overwhelmingly negative, virulent reaction to the article from most commenters here just goes to show the truth of this. The comments aren’t coming from any thoughtful base; rather they reveal a “Don’t you dare criticise us, we’re British!” mentality.

Jacques Rossat
JR
Jacques Rossat
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Don’t waste to much energy trying to convince the slightly chauvinistic bunch of Unherd posters

Ian Barton
IB
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Jacques Rossat

Sounds like “ le pot appelant la bouilloire noire” if you don’t mind me saying so.
Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Barton
Patrick Fox
Patrick Fox
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

In french “ l’hôpital qui se fout de la charité » the hospital not being bothered with charity

Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
MT
Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
2 years ago
Reply to  Jacques Rossat

slightly??? 🙂

Mike Wylde
MW
Mike Wylde
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The thing about substandard products is that no one forces anyone to buy them. Sending them to the EU, or anywhere else, would just mean having to bring them back home again when nobody bought them.
But you’re right, the UK wanted no restraint on sending goods to NI – why? because NI is part of the UK until it decides it doesn’t want to be and it hasn’t made that decision. If the Republic decided it didn’t want UK goods (substandard or not) then all it had to do was not buy them, a hard border is usually not necessary to stop the Irish from buying things. A hard border could have been put in place though if the EU wanted one, the GFA says nothing about whether borders need to be hard or soft but the EU insisted that it needed that hard border to stop people buying the substandard goods that you say the UK produces and, by your argument, people want to buy, only not where it logically should have been.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Wylde

You are not being serious. Countries have various standards for product quality, allowed pollution, working time of workers, pesticide residuals, animal welfare, … that cost money to implement. Allow a foreign producer to skip those standards and export without limit, and that producer will sell cheaper and either outcompete then locals, or force the EU to lower their standards. You know that, why pretend?

On the border, at least, you are consistent. The GFA relies on open borders. The UK then wants to unilaterally change the situation, and put the burden on the EU to either ruin the GFA or stop protecting its own customs borders. In other words ‘This is what we want, and scr*w everybody else’. Well, you can certainly do that, but in return the EU will do its damnedest to scr*w you in return. Trade war. Against a neighbour that is stronger than you. How sure are you that it is a good idea?

Ian Barton
IB
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Still with the power obsession Rasmus ….

Mike Wylde
Mike Wylde
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The GFA relies on people being able to transit freely, not goods. Other than the fact that both the UK and IE were in the EU when it was signed the GFA has absolutely nothing to do with the EU.

And you’re correct, I’m not altogether serious, it’s just so much fun to answer your comments to see how you tie yourself in knots justifying them, I suspect others think the same.

Rasmus Fogh
RF
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Wylde

Well, if it amuses you to look like an idiot I am not going to stand in your way.

Jean Nutley
Jean Nutley
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

What you say is true, but wasn’t it Cameron that got us into the whole mess? Teresa May was put in an invidious situation, couldn’t win whatever she did. My own opinion was (and still is) that Teresa May was put in that position to fail. Which is why no man came forwards for the job.

Ian Barton
IB
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Jean Nutley

I think you imagined that …. Five Conservative MPs were candidates: Justice Secretary Michael Gove, Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb, former Defence Secretary Liam Fox, Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change Andrea Leadsom, and Home Secretary Theresa May

Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Not really. Macron facing a rightwing nationalist competition next year, so standing up for plucky French fisherman and sabre rattling for French interests will have nods of support in the right places. There’s no political cost to him to big up squabbles with the UK as it also plays to the pro-EU French too, as Brexit has damaged ‘the project’ and elements in the EU do not like it. So ya-boo-sucks to the UK is good politics all round for Macron (unless he is perceived to lose the stand-off).
Boris doesn’t mind the spat either. Belligerence against EU bullying buys him votes as Labour won’t get any traction calling for Britain to work with the EU more. Britain, naturally, is now playing for its own interests. It can’t just roll over to everything the EU demands. It needs some leverage, and that leverage will come by discomforting the EU in the short term – to show it has prickles and can’t just be pushed around. The two sides have got to discover where the new boundaries are and that’s going to take some pushing and shoving.

Last edited 2 years ago by Saul D
Rasmus Fogh
RF
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

I am not sure how much this actually benefits Britains interests (as opposed to the electoral interests of Prime Minister and President). Pushing and being difficult and refusing to cooperate can squeeze out additional concessions, sure. It works for North Korea. The cost is a loss of trust, a refusal to make reasonable concessions in the interest of getting things to work – since the other side is sure to abuse any concessions made – a refusal to rely on promises – since the other side cannot be relied on to honour them – and a strong emotional desire from the other side to screw those assholes even at considerable cost. Even trained diplomats may be tempted to do what they dearly would like to do. It might work for China, because they are the biggest bully in the playground. It is not necessarily a good idea for a smaller country facing up to a bigger and stronger trading block.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

This is precisely why the EU have not supported Mr Macrons petty tantrum ….

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Barton
Saul D
SD
Saul D
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The pushing and shoving might not necessarily be about winning concessions now, it can also be about finding out the lie of the land. What are the hard lines, what’s a bit squishy, and what squeeze points does Britain have, for when serious agenda items need to be negotiated. Soundings out. Not just about the reaction of the EU, but also where there might be useful relationships with other member states, and points of contrast of opinions that might be exploitable. Against a more powerful counterparty, explore ways to navigate the situations to avoid a head on challenge.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

‘Britain wants to use its new freedom to prosper at the expense of the EU‘ own resources for the betterment of its own people. There, fixed it for you.

Dustin Needle
DN
Dustin Needle
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Hi Rasmus – I enjoy your thoughts and agree with some of what you have put there, but there’s a consistent theme that is overlooked in the desire to keep things simply by blaming Boris for everything. 
The referendum was run with the overwhelming support of Parliament, rules enforced before, during and after, and the votes counted. Yes, it was close and debate raged as soon as the result was announced, uncomfortably so for Johnson who personally faced a hate-mob the morning after and soon thereafter concluded he would not be running for PM to replace Cameron. 
Then an undefinable, unaccountable third force entered politics – the so-called “people’s vote” – promising a 2nd go where the more enlightened population could vote in their numbers to keep the status quo. This in turn bled into the discussions with the EU – just count the number of politicians shuttling backwards and forward to kiss the ring of Barnier. You don’t have to be an admirer of Theresa May to feel uneasy about the way they isolated and embarrassed her in negotiations. 
And this stuff sticks with voters, as an insult to the nation. In the words of the Randy Newman song, Rednecks – ‘(she) may be a fool but (she’s) our fool’. 
May’s deal – love it or hate it – was an attempt to bring all shades of opinion (NI aside) into something that was incredibly complicated. Ten bad campaigning and dumb luck got her stuck in a coalition with the Unionists. Smart politics should have allowed Labour to push things to the final reading, then abstain. That would have allowed a framework agreed by all sides to pass and for the practicalities to move on. It would also have left the Tories hopelessly, miserably divided. 
Incredibly, Labour seemed so fearful of those pushing for the “people’s vote” that they voted against, but not based on any particular foundation or counter-proposal. We then had the disgraceful scenes with the Speaker basically running democracy the way he saw it.  
Johnson took absolute dog’s abuse during this whole period and somehow turned it into an 80 seat majority, on little more than someone who will take on the EU robustly (step forward, Lord Frost) and get us out of the eternal loop of wishing we could turn the clock back.  
You may think we deserve better. I didn’t vote for him, so I may even agree with you. Yes, he’s an opportunist, a chameleon who will be whatever you want him to be at a point in time. But the aftermath of the referendum is a by-product of democracy and civil debate being bent out of shape. Every politician has to share blame for that.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

Rasmus frequently makes good points, but often goes on to undermine their quality by characterising UK actions as primarily driven by some kind of power insecurity.
Its an opinion – and maybe just used to attempt to goad – but a bit too simplistic for some of these debates.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Barton
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

In a way I do not blame the Boris. Yes he is an opportunist and a chameleon (I would add a lazy, unprincipled liar and buffoon), but this was perfectly obvious from the start, and this is clearly what people voted for. On their head be it.

The basic problem is that the British electorate wanted to have its cake and eat it. In a way I sympathise – I would like the same things, only I know that they are not possible. That is what the Leave campaign promised, and that is what the government had a mandate to deliver. On that background it is not unreasonable (though maybe bad tactics) for remainers to push for a second referendum where people could be forced to choose something that was actually possible. May (all due respect) went for the best possible deal that she could get through her own eurosceptics – never mind remainers that were ignored anyway. Labour refused to make up its mind and take a position (beyond ‘let JC handle it’) and duly managed to earn the distrust of both sides and lose the election. And in the end people chose the Boris because he was the only one telling them what they wanted to hear: that they could indeed have their cake and eat it. The one point where I really disagree with you is on the Speaker. He is a vain, unpleasant peacock, but all he did in this case was insist that Parliament had a right to be heard, and prevent the government from closing down debate, or parliament itself. Is that not what you want in a parliamentary system of government?

Johnson did indeed promise to ‘take on the EU robustly’, but he omitted to mention that this is a pipe dream. Wolf warrior diplomacy only works when you are as strong as China. Most likely those who voted for him liked to think that Britain was that strong, and that if only you went for it you could force the EU to give you what you want. But, of course, this is not the case. And the sooner Britain accepts that it lives in the real world, where you *cannot* have your cake and eat it, the better it will be for all of us.

Ian Barton
IB
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

You are still pushing this strange line about the U.K. being obsessed with taking on the EU.
The mindset change needs to come from those who hold this odd view you have – not the imaginary one you keep referring to.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

I’ve said pretty much all I had to say on this, but I honestly do not understand what point you are making. Are you saying that current UK negotiating tactics (including the brinksmanship and the refusal reluctance to make the NI protocol work) is likely to yield useful results that counterbalance the ill-will it obviously generates? Or that the solution to all this is that remainers and the entire population of the EU ought to accept that Britains claims are obviously right and should be conceded? Or that Britain is right to do what it does even if it yields inferior results?

Could you elucidate?

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I’m done with this too … my only point is that all should focus on particular issues as they come up -rather than discussing wider conspiracy theories.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Barton
Rasmus Fogh
RF
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Ah, ‘as they come up’. That is consistent at least.

Unfortunately it cannot work. 1) because the EU is wedded to the idea of precise, binding agreements, which one could argue is their fault. 2) because as a minimum that requires a problem-free starting point, and mutual trust that future problems can be resolved with good faith and good will. Currently there is neither – and that is definitely Britain’s fault. You could argue that the agreement between the EU and Norway is built that way, but Norway is too small and weak to try to force its will onto the EU. Britain is big enough, and clearly plans to do exactly that.

Are you really saying that the EU should base its foreign policy on taking Boris Johnsons word that he will look out for EU interests in the future?

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Ian Barton
IB
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The EU organisation might like drawing up binding agreements, but it doesnt stick with them e.g loan and bond arrangements that are specifically outlawed by the charter
There is precious little mutual trust within the EU 26, so maybe they should sort that out first.

Graeme Laws
GL
Graeme Laws
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Now I know you are living in a parallel universe. The EU makes rules which the French and the Germans, to name but two, then ignore. Remember the Growth and Stability pact? Or the rule that said the ECB couldn’t bail out sovereign states? The UK problem has always been that we have taken the rule of law seriously.

stephen archer
SA
stephen archer
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

“prosper at the expense of the EU”? Has that been the UK’s strategy? You sound like Barnier or Macron, and I doubt your Danish politicians or other EU countries politicians see it that way. They’re probably more concerned about the trade barriers set up by Brussels’ inflexible and protectionary politics considering the previous trade between their countries and the UK. And any mention of single market aspects in relation to the UK’s internal trade between GB and N Ireland is a bit far fetched unless paranoia is evident in believing that using Eire for circumventing trade boundaries is a serious issue.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  stephen archer

From memory it was a Danish minister who commented that leaving the EU was obviously very bad for your economy, and the only way for the project to make sense was if you could get into a position where you could use your freedom to make your own rules and your access to EU markets to profit from undercutting the EU. Which is bad for Denmark too. If anybody in Denmark is campaigning for better access for Britain I have yet to see it. Do you have any references?

As for the UK’s internal trade, Northern Ireland is a hole in the EU tariff wall. It is like leaving a hole in your border fence – how long will it take for the immigrants to pour through, once they know about the hole? Add to that that the UK government can be counted on to encourage UK goods pouring into the single market, as a source of UK profits.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Your Danish minister seems to lack any strategic understanding.
Someone ought to tell him that there are more than 26 countries in the world.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

The Danes had the good sense to keep away from the Eurozone – so for the time being you still have options.

Mike Wylde
Mike Wylde
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

We could, indeed, undercut the EU in all non EU markets and that would be none of the EUs business (except in the loss of trade). We could even include those freedom loving countries such as Russia and China if we chose – oh my mistake, Gemany (from inside the EU) already chose to deal with them.
As for entry via the Republic. Are you seriously suggesting that it makes economic sense to product goods in the UK, drive them up to Scotland,ship them to Belfast, drive them down to Dublin and then ship them across to France and hence onwards to the rest of the EU whilst still remaining competitive? The Irish could have bought them of course but that’s hardly an enormous market. Or were you afraid the Irish would buy them all and then sell them on to the rest of the EU?

Rasmus Fogh
RF
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Wylde

Yes, I am suggesting that. Or, equally realistically, you could produce those products in Asia, ship them to Belfast or Liverpool, where they can legally be sold, and transport them on to Dublin, Paris, and Prague, where they cannot. Considering that you can avoid not only EU regulations that way, but also product quotas, customs duty, etc., that could be quite a lucrative little business for the UK and the importers both, all at the expense of the EU.

Does the concept of being able to control and protect your own borders resonate with you at all?

Mike Wylde
Mike Wylde
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

But economically feasible? Really?
To get them into Belfast they would have to go through UK customs, easy to trace after that.
Shipping to Liverpool still means that enormous road journey to get to a point 100 miles away. There aren’t enough truck drivers – we’d have to import the concept of road trains from Australia first.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Wylde

‘Easy enough to trace’? Once products are legally inside the UK, UK customs have no reason to trace them, and no desire to help the EU protect its borders or revenue from smuggling. On the contrary – it is all to the good for the UK to get the customs revenue and the jobs. Even before Brexit there were already problems with UK customs not notifying potentially problematic Chinese imports to the EU – since the UK gained nothing from doing it. Why should the EU trust the UK with enforcing its customs policies?

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

It clearly doesn’t trust the Irish to do it, so maybe a customs border between Ireland and the rest of the EU might be a better answer.