‘Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien’
As I near the end of this current series chronicling our first year of living in France after moving during the middle of the pandemic, days before the end of the Brexit transition period, I cannot help but compare our situation with the UK.
Although I miss certain aspects of living in the UK, like central heating, 24/7 retail hours, the panto season and BBC 4, I count my lucky stars that we got out when we did.
From friends and family back home I realise there is not much to cheer about as Christmas approaches.
Recent global supply chain problems have been well documented, but the problems experienced in the UK have been accentuated by the loss of east European workers and drivers since Brexit.
Here in France th,ere is no shortage of the essentials such as wine, bread, cheese and firewood, although mince pies are a bit of a problem this year with the announcement that Marks & Spencer is set to close 11 of its stores in France.
A new YouGov poll reveals residents of the UK were much more likely to have experienced, or know people who have experienced, shortages of food and fuel than people living in the rest of Europe, including France.
Russia’s control of a gas pipeline has added to other pressures on European households, but again the situation appears more acute in the UK, where a raft of energy suppliers have gone bust this winter, including my mother’s.
Here in France, energy prices have also risen and, wind speeds are also lower than usual, meaning turbines have generated less electricity than predicted.
France has a similar sized economy to the UK’s and is also experiencing supply chain issues holding back manufacturing, but it appears to have bounced back more quickly than Britain and has experienced more people returning to work recently with the rate above pre-pandemic levels.
With the UK government mired in domestic scandals and badly lacking in any coherent leadership, the country has become an international joke because of Prime Minister Johnson, who suffered another blow to his credibility when his Brexit negotiator Lord Frost suddenly resigned this week.
Whether this will actually improve relations between the EU and the UK remains to be seen, meanwhile, the British government needs to get its own house in order, show its citizens some respect, keep them safe and make sure they have affordable fuel and heating and plenty of food on the shelves this Christmas.
At least Britons can still enjoy their panto this holiday season, thanks to the government’s handling of events.
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