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What does the French white van man think about Brexit?

28 April 2018

8:30 AM

28 April 2018

8:30 AM

I am living in Paris in the unofficial role of Diplomatic Wag. Though since I am neither wife nor girlfriend, but fiancée, or, in best Franglais, la vielle balle et chaîne, I have been searching for a new acronym. Foho (Foreign Office Hanger On)? Andy is a ‘Directeur de SIN’, a demonic job description out of C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters. SIN is the government’s Science and Innovation Network, promoting collaboration between international scientists. There is goodwill in laboratories on both sides of the Channel to go on working together post-You-Know-What.

Brexit is pronounced to rhyme with Brigitte, as in Bardot. Parisians ask if you’re American or English and when you say English they bring up Brexitte. What do you think of it, I ask. ‘C’est à vous,’ shrug the butchers, the bakers, the buckwheat-crêpe-makers. It’s your decision. When I have the same conversation with curators, press officers, gallerists, they say: ‘C’est comme un suicide.’ Which suggests that the small shopkeeper and l’homme de van blanc are admirably of one mind in Calais and in Kent.

This is an extract from Laura Freeman’s Notebook, which appears in this week’s Spectator


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