Letters – week of 13th March

211

Brexit

“Astonished at your taking sides on the matter of Europe like this. Totally one sided. Very poor.”

Ed – The whole issue of Brexit is not some sort of academic exercise. This is not an intellectual debate without consequences. This is real – stark, staring real.

We are British citizens living in Europe, contributing to the European ideal and enjoying the ups and downs that it represents.

We are not headless-chicken politicians, like David Cameron, who at the first sign of trouble from within his own party decided to throw all sense of leadership out of the window and announce that a referendum was the right way to go.

It was his weakness which means that the most important socio-economic decision facing the UK and Europe for 30 years is now the subject of red-top newspapers featuring ego-centric, attention-seeking, tub-thumping rhetoric from the likes of Boris Johnson.

A crucial decision affecting our nation for generations is now getting dumbed down into the “Too many bloody foreigners” arguments posited by morons and fascists.

A Brexit result will certainly have the impact of reducing immigration. They won’t come to the UK. Who would want to escape persecution in one country to settle in a place riddled with hate and xenophobia?

If the people of this tiny, and once great, island choose to remove themselves from the enormous market on their doorstep, then I am sure that Europeans and others will be keen to reciprocate.

Britain is not better outside Europe. Europe is a better place with Britain as an inclusive and collaborative partner – even if that means that we Brits don’t always get our own way.

Yes, the “little Englander” crowd of Boris Johnson, Iain Duncan-Smith, Michael Gove all rather remind me of spoilt children who start whining and sulking when their nannies tell them to behave. By the way, have you noticed how their rhetoric and tone is starting to resemble that of the other new “great” Statesman, Donald Trump?

We are 100% pro-Europe. Yes, we are taking sides, unashamedly so. If you think it’s poor, you’re missing the point about who we are. We’re British and we’re Europeans, we’re proud of it, and we want to remain that way.

Voting

A letter from a reader has sent alarm bells ringing – about the timing of postal votes, and the catastrophe last time, where many postal votes weren’t arriving in time to be counted.

A Registration Officer told one of our readers:

“Ballot Papers are usually sent out about 2 weeks before but there is no guarantee that you will receive your ballot papers in time for them to be returned. If you have any concerns about receiving your ballot papers then you may wish to appoint a proxy to vote on your behalf at your polling station.

“For more information on Proxy voting please follow the link http://www.bedford.gov.uk/council_and_democracy/elections/proxy_voting.aspx”

We are all finding it rather baffling and pointless to have a postal vote, when the timescales for sending and returning is so tight as to render it more than likely that the vote will not count. Proxy votes are often unpractical for expats, who may not be able to appoint someone to vote for them locally.

Airport runs

We had a request from a reader who is looking to travel abroad, and is reluctant to pay for 6 weeks parking at Béziers airport. His request was whether there is a service which offers either lifts to airports, or help with juggling cars so that they are not sitting in expensive parking bays for weeks at a time. If anyone knows of such a service at a reasonable price, please get in touch with us. I’m sure it will be useful for many of our readers.

Glasses

Further to our article on the price of glasses in France, a reader wrote in to confirm that

“I have just purchased a pair of rimless, vari-focal, extra light, unbreakable lenses online from perfectglasses.co.uk.  My previous pair, frames, vari-focal, polychromatic were bought here in France and cost over €600 two years ago, with hardly anything reimbursable from CPAM. These new ones online were £93 including delivery!”

Labour Laws

“Regarding the article about labour reform, I fully agree with Ed’s comments at the end regarding Prime Minister Manuel Valls at least attempting to address the problems, and not being prepared to sweep it under the carpet. Change is a dirty word in the French dictionary!” 

Train strikes

“Once again the seasonal issue of train strikes raises its head. I have never lived in a country that has so many strikes as France; I wonder if anyone has information on how much it costs the Government and French tax payer each year ? I am not anti Government or anti Union, but I am anti idiots. I find it unbelievable that these same old issues continue each year, all parties involved have a serious lack of negotiating skills! I guess it’s not their own personal money that’s being squandered!”

Hanging out your washing

“Regarding the article on the cars in Béziers that were set on fire, I see one of the residents made a comment about being told not to hang their washing out on the balcony, but not dealing with the issue of drugs being sold openly in the street. We have examples of that in Pezenas also, I guess it’s the old story of don’t rock the boat, and it’s easier to deal with the washing issue and the colour of your shutters, than to address the drug problems!”