Posted on Jan 01, 2022
Francois Badjily, head of the Alpe d’Huez tourist office, has suggested France is playing politics with the pandemic in order to exact a petty revenge on the UK for Brexit: "We have the impression that our industry is being made to pay the price for the poor relations between both countries right now, whether it’s about Brexit or fishing or whatever... Why should a Briton who meets these (vaccination) criteria not be allowed to come, but the French and Belgians can?
M.Badjily, has good reason to be upset: at least 42 per cent of Val d’Isere’s customers are British.
Citing COVID, Macron has instigated travel measures that have caused chaos and confusion throughout the Christmas break. French border police at the Eurotunnel terminal in Folkestone prevented Britons who were legally resident in the EU from returning to their homes, with officials saying they were not allowed to transit through France on "health grounds", although non-British travellers in the same situation were allowed to travel.
Macron is in trouble: although currently showing a lead in the polls leading up to the first round of April's Presidential elections, his approval rating is only 25% at the moment. In the 2017 election, Marine Le Pen came second with 33.9%, however in the upcoming election she faces what appear to be "spoiler" candidates, emulating her policies in order to undermine her support base. Macron even appears to have enlisted former EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier who unconvincingly poached some of Le Pen's policies before being somewhat ignominiously dropped by his own Republicans party.
The French economy is in trouble, French cities are seething with discontent and racial tension, and French waters have run out of fish. Rather than seek a way forward, Macron has chosen to blame Brexit. Having taken that line, he has to be seen to punish the British, with threats of cutting off energy supplies to Jersey, a British self-governing dependency that France has long coveted.
However, putting his petulance into writing was probably a mistake: “I must say I was puzzled to read a letter from the French Prime Minister explicitly asking for Britain to be punished for leaving the EU," said Boris Johnson at the recent G20 summit.
"I just have to say to everybody, I don’t believe that that is compatible either with the spirit or the letter of the Withdrawal Agreement, or the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.”
Macron appears, however, to have failed in his bid to escalate his spat with the UK not as a bilateral issue for the nations but an EU issue.
France now takes the rotating presidency of the European Council for the next six months. Macron will certainly see this as a an opportunity to present himself as Europe's leading statesman - a position left vacant since the departure from the post of Angela Merkel - but as Matthew said, "Ye shall know them by their fruits."
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