Posted by / Category Politics /

That’s it: the path is clear. Article 50 will be triggered on the 29th of March, and the divorce proceedings between the UK and the European Union will finally begin.

In such cases, the potential for things to turn nasty is high. Let’s face it, it will be long and complex. However, the optimistic in me believes that where there is a political will, you can make anything happen. There will be threats on both sides, but if both parties work in good faith I believe that we should get there in the end. Onwards and upwards, as they say over here.

As you may know, I am lucky: I applied for a British passport as soon as I could, and managed the applications of all the family. Yes, it was an expensive process, but for me it was a priority: I didn’t want my children not to be able to come back to the country where they were brought up. It must be said that we were the exception rather than the rule: most of my European friends didn’t bother applying for a passport when they could have. Some of them had been living here for decades, and I am still struggling to understand why they didn’t become British after all this time. I know that some of you disagree, but if staying in the UK was so important, then surely they should have taken every possible precaution to make sure they would be able to stay. Of course EU citizens came to this country because they were legally allowed to do so. It was their right. To me, it was also a privilege. It felt a bit like being able to stay at friends’ house indefinitely. You have their permission to stay, but after a while, the decent thing to do is to get your own place. As my (French) grandmother used to say: ‘My House, My Rules’. And sometimes, rules changed. Anyway, that’s just me. And don’t get me wrong: I feel for fellow European Citizen who haven’t had as much luck as I did.

No divorce is easy of course, and this one will be made even more difficult because it is led by the French. In case you don’t know: we French are sore losers. We are immersed in our own history and have been taught to believe that France has set the norm for democracy, philosophy, justice and savoir vivre. The European Union is pretty much a French creation. Let’s be honest: we don’t know much (if anything) about other countries. The British will not be seen as equal. The French will prolong discussions as much as they can and remain intransigent. OK, I’ll say it (and I can because I happen to be French): we believe that we are intellectually superior to any other nationality (especially the British). Oh, and we French don’t do sarcasm.

On the other hand, humour is considered as one of the most effective weapon in the British arsenal. Self depreciation is commonly used, and the French don’t get it. To make matters even worse, the British never say ‘No’ to your face. Instead, they will use expressions such as ‘it’s a good idea, BUT…’ or ‘I don’t disagree’ (this means that they disagree, otherwise they would have said that they agree). The British will be guided by compromise and common sense.

I wonder how things will pan out. Divorce is traumatic, but I hope that, for the UK and the European Union, it will be an opportunity to build a new life. So what about you, what are your latest thoughts on Brexit?

  • James Casserly

    I have to say that the biggest concern I have is because we are in unchartered territory, nobody really knows how to proceed and the UK government haven’t a plan. They seem to act as if the EU “owes” them something, which isn’t the case, and given that it’s the UK who have filed for this divorce, they really ought to have some sort of plan. It will be an interesting precedent to say the least. I suspect the EU will be tough, inasmuch an attempt to discourage others from deciding to leave as anything else.

    • Very true. But maybe, just maybe, it will be a new beginning for the EU and the UK. I must be in an optimistic sort of mood tonight…

  • dth

    I live in France and i’m pretty worried. I hqvn’t even got a driving license after 5yrs as 12 documents and having to go to the prefecture to transition from a UK one is too much hassle.

    My other (Fr) half says anyone would have to be very desperate to apply for French citizenship (due to the buracracy).

    For the UK, i feel pretty sad too. It’s likely that i’ll never return due to the difficulties we’d face for my other half.

    I don’t feel the outlook is very rosy at all for the u.k

    • I am sorry to read this. I understand that soon the French will make it easier to get all the papers done so all hope is not lost for you (no need to go to the prefecture in 2018 I think).
      I suppose it’s all about choosing where you want to live and making it happen. Good luck!

      • dth

        Thanks Muriel.

        I’m very tied to france now after 5yrs.
        Kids in state school (english a very distant second language for them), permanent job, mortgage etc. Going back would be very difficult to unravel everything.

  • Jenny

    I have many friends in the UK who are foreign nationals. They remain in their own enclaves not venturing into the UK world except for the things they want. Schooling, Health and access to benefits.
    I find it sad that a number of the children miss out on school activities, being the odd ones out on activity days, because their parents who brought them here cannot speak the language, nor read the numerous school letters.
    One child I know, her parents have not attended any parents evening for three years.Multiply that by the four children in the family. Likewise she does not attend any of her friends birthday parties.
    One mum said to me, if they want to be here, you should learn the language, Integrate and take full part in their children’s future.
    Every returner i know or have met, who has lived abroad, seems to have voted for Brexit, you cant help but wonder why.

    • I think that this is a very interesting point, Jenny. We need to tackle integration head on, and there is a lot to do. Personally, I think that if you live in a foreign country, you have to make an effort to understand it, and make a contribution to the community. But that’s just me.

  • The Skiathian

    Our French friends did not want to let us in the EEC, Now they do not want to let us out of its enlarged big brother the EU. Quite funny that …

    • How things have changed, right?

      • The Skiathian

        1967: De Gaulle says ‘non’ to Britain again – At a news conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, attended by more than 1,000 diplomats, civil servants and ministers as well as journalists, General de Gaulle accused Britain of a “deep-seated hostility” towards European construction.

        He said London showed a “lack of interest” in the Common Market and would require a “radical transformation” before joining the EEC.

        “The present Common Market is incompatible with the economy, as it now stands, of Britain,” he said.

        He went on to list a number of aspects of Britain’s economy, from working practices to agriculture, which he said made Britain incompatible with Europe.

        Hopes that he might offer clear terms for associate membership were also dashed. He said France would back commercial exchanges with Britain – “be it called association or by any other name” – but that was all.

        His remarks were greeted with dismay in Europe, where it is feared an open crisis within the EEC is now inevitable.

        General de Gaulle’s position has hardly changed since he first vetoed Britain’s application to join in 1963.

        He leaves the British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, with no realistic hope of taking Britain into Europe in the near future.

        All three political parties are committed to joining the EEC, and the news of General de Gaulle’s continuing intransigence on the issue was met with gloom in Westminster.

        The only group which was pleased with the General’s comments were anti-European campaigners.


        Seems like not much has changed at all …

  • DonPaulie

    Genuinely I wouldn’t worry too much about it (easy for me to say), nothing’s really going to change, the Govt are already priming the Brexit voters that immigration won’t actually be dropping. The next 2yrs will get a bit nasty and at the last minute we’ll end up with a deal that suits everyone, its how the EU works.

    Also its worth remembering that for all the middle class remain voters in the UK, this is the first time in their lives that something has actually gone against them and they are still in absolute shock over it, which is where all the ‘scare’ stories are coming from. I was at a local event the other evening (I’m lucky enough to live in a very hip middle class area) being told that poor Henwy has had his future ripped away from him and leaving the EU is the end of their world. Bare in mind Henwy goes to a state funded prep school, will be joining his siblings at public school next year, goes skiing at Christmas and summer holiday is USA or Australia, both parents must be earning £100k+ each, they live in a huge newly refurbished Victorian house that cost £700k + the refurb cost, 2 new cars every 2 years and they have a holiday home in France. But as I say this is the first time in their lives anything (and I mean anything) has gone against them and its a total culture shock.

    • I love your comment and I totally agree. Generation ‘entitled’ was shocked and disappointed. Poor Darlings! What happened to the legendary ‘Stiff Upper Lip’? Onwards and upwards, as they say.