I, like many, have chosen to holiday on the continent this year. I say many because France is even more packed with Brits than usual this year. It makes sense: this is the summer to do it, as we literally have no idea whatsoever if we’ll be allowed in without some shitty American-style visa hassle in 2019. Perhaps Southeast Asia will get the traffic next summer.
Being here during the May-Macron “summit” confirms what I would have figured was the French view of both the meeting and Brexit in general. They want their president to be strong and give the Brits a good thrashing. After years of being told the Anglo-Saxons had the shiny torch to the future, it is satisfying for a nation, already basking in the glow of the World Cup many in England thought was coming home for a couple of glorious weeks last month, to have a British prime minister trying to court their president in a bid to save herself. This corresponds with the view of Brexit, which I can summarise like so:
For years, the Brits moaned and complained and held things up, all while getting rebates and opt outs, basically getting everything they ever seemed to want within the EU. Then, they asked for more, got some of it but not all, had a referendum and voted to leave. Apparently, this was caused by immigration from the Eastern European members, ironic given it was the Brits who wanted expansion over French wishes. So, the English can get stuffed. If they want to leave, they should leave with nothing. “No deal” is exactly what we want too. It will hurt the French economy a little, but that will be more than made up for by the fact that the Brits have just decided to destroy theirs, made all the better by the fact that they willing chose to do it to themselves.
Already, the talk is of a post-Brexit future for Europe that will be both united by the horrorshow of Brexit (as a demonstration of how leaving is a bad idea) and freed of British influence, which the French above most others always resented. Parts of the debate around Brexit in France seem to be a Bizzaro world version of what you find in right wing tabloids in Britain: yes, Brexit will hurt, but it will be worth it for the increase in sovereignty. Losing English tourists and/or retirees will be painful to the economy if this tails off after March 2019, but hell, we always felt weird about bits of the country being propped up by aging Brits buying decrepit property anyhow. It will be a chance for self-renewal; something that will force France to be a better version of itself.
The main difference, of course, is this: the French can console themselves that whatever happens with Brexit, it was not something they brought upon themselves.