6 Things Parisians REALLY Think About Brexit

Cameron and Hollande Brexit

France President François Hollande looking glum with UK PM David Cameron

With the U.K. voting last week to exit the E.U., there’s been a bit of a freak-out on this side of the Atlantic—especially among Parisians. After all, France and Britain aren’t exactly best friends, and this vote is seen as a bit of an f-u to the European region. Here are a few of the things I’ve read and heard on the streets of Paris RE “Brexit”:

That sucks, I can’t buy as much now. At a chic Paris boutique, I overheard a British customer asking a salesgirl the price of a shirt. When Salesgirl responded in euros, Brit said “well unfortunately that’s about the same as it costs now in pounds” and chuckled to herself. When Salesgirl responded with her best Parisian death stare, Brit quickly apologized with the royal we: “…and we’re really all very sorry for that, we are.” No response. 

This is the beginning of the end. Anti-immigration, anti-Euro Marine Le Pen of the far right populist Front National party—i.e. the French version of Trump— said that Brexit is the “people’s spring” and called for the same referendum in France, saying it’s just the beginning of countries exiting the E.U. She’s been calling for an exit from the Euro for years, so she’s obviously smug with Brexit. While the FN is more popular than ever, it’s also not expected to make it into final round of voting for next year’s presidential election—so let’s hope Brexit never gets that far either.

It’s OK to feel sad (or not…). A French friend working in London said that after the Brexit vote was announced, her boss told everyone he knew it had been an “emotional day,” so they could go home early if they wanted. My friend, being French (and not particularly emotional but more just incredulous at Brits), happily obliged.

Paris will be the next London. According to French newspapers, French realtors say that since Brexit, they’ve received more calls from wealthy French businesspeople living in the U.K. looking into buying expensive real estate in Paris. They speculate it’s because if Britain is no longer part of the E.U., London will stop being the capital of European trade and finance. And then, of course, all trade will move to Paris (which is why the Frenchies want to buy there). Gotta love the French for their, ahem, self confidence. Reality: no complaints if Paris really does become the next London, but there are lots more likely E.U. biz capitals who also speak way better English—like Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Vienna…

Thanks, UK, for thinking about #1 as usual. A fantastically sarcastic blog in the French newspaper Liberation put the French sentiment toward longtime Brit rivals best:

“After WWII, you (UK) were stuck in an economic depression to the point that the International Monetary Fund had to come to your rescue, like a vulgar Greece. Your GDP, since joining (the EU) in 1973, was one of the lowest of the European Economic Community, and that’s why you joined this project that revolted you. If Churchill was for the United States of Europe, it was evidently with a UK as the main power and not simply a member, not more important than France!

“I’m impressed, as always, with your collective sense of sacrifice and your collective interest. When I think of what’s to come for you, cutting the connections between us (200 commercial agreements signed in our name by the EU that you have to renegotiate, 80,000 pages of communal laws that need to be fixed…), preserving access to a single market, mostly for your banks and your financial services, I can’t help but salute your courage!”

People are idiots (so Brits deserve what’s coming to them). Another blog in the French Slate.com takes to task the entire concept of allowing a xenophobic public to vote on something as complicated and nuanced as exiting the European Union:

“What distain for youth, spitting on future generations, a victory of ostracism… How many concentration camps, genocides, holocausts are necessary to convince people that man is capable of anything, that if left to express the base of his thoughts, he will take you down where he can finally quench his thirst for vengeance, murder and hate?

“Haven’t you understood with the emergence of social media…you can in three syllables seduce any idiot into the dark night?

“When will you understand that you’re asking the same people who…gobble up stupid superhero movies and reality TV that dishonors the human race…what they think about exiting the EU—a problem of infinite complexity? These same people who would say yes to reestablishing the death penalty, approve any torture, applaud the detainment of any person under the least suspicion. Who would have no problem if tomorrow we started prohibiting certain professions from certain people with skin too dark to be honest and parking entire families in camps in the name of preserving their race.”

Which, of course, brings up the ultimate question: Allowing the referendum is democracy in its purest form: one person one vote. So if we really believe that the majority of people are too dumb to vote on an issue like Brexit (which they may very well likely be…), do we even really believe in democracy?

Maybe not, after all. Here’s to hoping this isn’t a foreshadowing of our own Trump referendum in November

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