Frexit bombshell: How French majority backed vote on EU withdrawal amid Brexit row

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Brexit has influenced the European Union in ways it likely never imagined. Not only has it disrupted its machinations and forced a revision of years-old documents in relation to its relationship with Britain; it has also forced the EU to reassure its existing member states that they are indeed fine where they are.

To the EU’s opponents, Brexit has proved Brussels’ mortality.

It has also made many countries realise they too may have the tide of opinion in their favour.

Even before Brexit, countries like France appeared intent on holding a membership referendum of sorts.

A survey by the University of Edinburgh in March of 2016 – just months before the Brexit vote – revealed the extent of this.

Looking at the public attitude to the UK’s EU membership referendum in Germany, France, Poland, Spain, Ireland and Sweden, the survey found many wanted a referendum.

France was the only country that said it would back holding a similar referendum to the UK – with some 53 percent of the 8,000 asked in favour.

Respondents in Sweden (49 percent), Spain (47 percent) and Germany (45 percent) were also in favour of such referendums.

Results declined in Poland (39 percent) and Ireland (38 percent).

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Interestingly, in France, the main proponent at the time of the poll for leaving the EU was Marine Le Pen and her Front National.

Years on and Ms Le Pen has backtracked her belief in Frexit.

Last year, the party announced it would no longer make calls to leave the EU or abandon the euro.

The revision coincided with the European elections as Ms Le Pen looked to challenge Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche! party.


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Ms Le Pen failed, trailing to Mr Macron – although her position as the main opposition, many have commented, gives her party leverage in manoeuvring France’s political future.

Meanwhile, in the UK, Brexit talks with Brussels continue.

Despite little progress being made, last week, Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, claimed a trade deal with the EU based on the UK’s “very reasonable” demands is still possible.

He said he “very much” hoped a no deal outcome could be avoided if the two sides could work together.

His utterances came after the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, accused the UK of “backtracking” on its commitments.

Mr Barnier said there are four main areas where differences in opinion remain: fisheries, competition rules, governance and police cooperation.

Guidelines for these things, however, were set out in the political declaration agreed by the UK and EU last year.

Speaking in Brussels, Mr Barnier said: “My responsibility is to speak to truth and, to tell the truth, this week there have been no significant areas of progress.”

As things stand, the UK has until the end of June to ask for the “transition period” to be extended into next year.

However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly made clear he has no plans to make such a request.

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