French Economy Slips Back Into Contraction Territory

It’s not just the Germany economy which is being hit by a serious slump, France is stuck in a rut of its own with the latest economic data showing yet another contraction. After a very slight recovery in February, France’s composite PMI for this month has fallen back down below the 50 level, which indicates growth, to 48.7, following contractions in December and January as well. No wonder Macron’s no deal bluster didn’t survive the night yesterday – if May had actually stuck to her no deal promise the UK’s position would only be getting stronger now…

No, A French Minister Doesn’t Have a Cat Called ‘Brexit’

Journalists thought they’d got their paws on the purrr-fect tail after reports that France’s Europe Minister Nathalie Loiseau had named her cat Brexit because of its indecision. Meow!

Loiseau was quoted as saying:

“It wakes me up meowing like crazy every morning because it wants to go out, but as soon as I open the door, it just sits there undecided and then looks angry when I put it outside.”

She was even asked about it by a British journalist in Brussels yesterday. Un-fur-tunately her office have confirmed that the story isn’t fur real and she was just kitten around – she doesn’t actually own a cat at all. Purr-lease, she was just feel-ine funny…

France Unveils Technological ‘Smart Border’ Solution

As any self-respecting Brexit pundit will be more than happy to remind us, smart borders featuring mythological things like remote customs declarations and automated number plate checking are simply “unicorns” which aren’t likely to be possible for hundreds, if not thousands of years. They certainly won’t be suitable for any post-Brexit border crossings…

Which is why French Customs have just unveiled a “smart border” – an “innovative technological solution” which will be implemented on 29 March 2019 “at all points of entry/exit to/from the Calais region and at border points from Channel-North Sea to maintain smooth circulation of your goods.” What are they thinking wasting their time on this? If only they’d listened to the commentariat…

The French say their system is based on three principles, which are obviously from the realms of pure fantasy:

  • The early completion of customs procedures before arriving at the border by giving the bar code of the customs declaration to the driver.
  • The identification of the mean of transport and the bar code of customs declaration of transported goods.
  • The automatic sending of the crossing notifications to the customs declarant to avoid stopping the HGV.

The bar codes are linked to the number plates of the HGVs so hauliers have no need to stop, avoiding delays to the vast quantities of goods that pass between the UK and France every day. But of course, none of this could ever possibly work to monitor the tiny quantities of agricultural products and construction materials that cross the Irish border…

French Railways to Be Neo-Liberalised

Teenage Corbynistas who are too young to have known the joys of nationalised British Rail can look across the channel to learn about the merits of socialised transport:

“The dilapidated network, delays, abysmal debt … The situation is alarming, not to say untenable. The French, whether they take the train or not, pay more and more for a public service that works less and less well…”

So says Prime Minister Edouard Philippe about the state of SNCF, France’s publicly owned railway. He plans to tackle the railway union’s amazingly comfy conditions for workers. He wants to “align its costs with European standards”, when “running a train in France costs 30% more than elsewhere”. The unions suspect he is preparing to privatise the company, he denies it, he is just going to neo-liberalise reform the railways to be run more like a private company. The railway union has called a national strike for March 22…

Macron: French “Probably” Would Have Voted to Leave EU

French President Emmanuel Macron admits the French people would “probably” have voted to leave the European Union had they been allowed a referendum. #DespiteFrexit…

Panta-Loon!

Francois Ruffin, a newly minted left-wing member of the Assemblée Nationale, managed to bring proceedings to a halt by failing to tuck his shirt in:

Guido would have got a detention at school for being this scruffy. In a similar sartorial situation Bercow would probably allow matters to proceed…

French Socialists Smashed

President Macron’s neo-liberal centrists have achieved “an unprecedented retreat of the left as a whole and the Parti Socialiste in particular,” according to the party’s head, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis. Macron’s En Marche running on a manifesto promising pro-business and market-friendly reforms has made incredible headway. Socialism’s advance in France reversed by a dynamic political leader. Lesson there…

Farage and Le Pen: Key Quotes

Here are the top lines from Nigel Farage’s interview with Marine Le Pen. All much to be expected: not a fan of Theresa May, pro- a good Brexit deal, condemns anti-Semitism, pro-Russia. 

On Theresa May:

Farage: “Has the British PM snubbed you?”

Le Pen: “It seems to be the case… I do not understand this discrepancy, this contradiction between what Theresa May stands for because she has decided to be the woman who will implement Brexit, and her meeting with Emmanuel Macron…”

Farage: “… Actually with Donald Trump, Number 10 wanted nothing to do with Donald Trump whatsoever because they thought he would lose…”

Le Pen: “She is good at getting it wrong but this is rather reassuring!”

On how a Le Pen government would deal with Brexit:

Le Pen:I see no reason why France and Great Britain should not have excellent relations. We are old allies and economically speaking as well, we have a great many exchanges to implement. What I cannot stand in the behaviour of the EU with regards to Great Britain is blackmail, constant threat. This structure is no longer moving without blackmail and threat. “You have to pay. We’re going to penalise you 250,000 Euros fine for every migrant refused.” It’s Europe in a very forceful way; Europe imposed by Merkel and I believe that between two nations such as ours that really go back and that would be free if I am elected; both would be free and we would have excellent relations as well as trade relations of very good quality, as in the past.”

On Russia and Putin:

Le Pen: “Russia is not a danger to us. Russia does not attack France. Russia does not do aggressive social or environmental dumping against France. Russia does not threaten identity, the identity of France of the geostrategic interests of France. Why should I be hostile to Russia?… I borrowed money from a Russian bank. Fine, what am I supposed to do? Well, I’m supposed to pay it back. Right? I took out personal loans from French banks and the banker hasn’t come to my home to decide what school my children should go to or what the colour of my curtains should be. By the same token, it’s a Russian bank that has lent me money. That doesn’t matter at all.”

To be fair Farage also asked about her views on Islam and anti-Semitism, something he has criticised her for in the past. She said Islam is not incompatible with western lifestyle and condemned anti-Semitic Front National members. The full interview is at 7pm on LBC. 

Fillon: I Will Not Give In, I Will Not Give Up, I Will Not Withdraw

Scandal-hit centre-right candidate Francois Fillon has refused to withdraw from the French presidential race following the employment scandal involving his Wales-born wife Penelope. He abruptly cancelled a scheduled campaign appearance this morning, summoning journalists to his HQ in Paris where he announced he had been put under formal investigation by a judge. He says he’s the victim of a “political assassination” and a press witch hunt. But he sensationally told his audience:

“I will not give in. I will not give up. I am not prepared to withdraw.”

He says he won’t surrender to the “extreme right” or the “continuation of Hollande”. The received Gallic wisdom is this is good for Macron, less so for Le Pen…

Macron’s Banks Thanks to May

Emmanuel Macron, who Theresa May granted the privilege of a visit to Downing Street this afternoon, stands on the steps of Number 10 and tells the media he wants British banks to relocate to France. In his dreams. Typical ungrateful Frenchman…

France ‘YouTube Tax’ Boost For Britain’s Digital Economy

The French parliament has passed a ‘YouTube’ tax: a levy of 2% on advertising receipts of websites hosting videos, rising to 10% when those videos include adult material. News is exempted so the tax is going to hit the French digital economy rather than the media, the proposal seeks to raise revenue from the left’s pantomime baddies Google, Amazon and Facebook, as well as obvious targets like YouTube, Netflix and Vimeo. Remember when Project Fear told us Britain’s digital economy would pack up after Brexit and move to techno-chic European cities like Paris? Not when the French can always be relied on to push in-Seine policies like this…

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Quote of the Day

In response to the news that Emily Thornberry described the Lib Dems as “like the Taliban” over their new revoke Article 50 Brexit policy, the former Lib Dem leader responded:

“Come on Emily, if we really were like a Middle East terrorist group, don’t you think Jeremy would’ve invited us to a conference fringe meeting before now?”

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