The UK in the French news this week

Le Monde

This week Le Monde reported on the fact that Nigel Farage has advised UKIP party members not to use Twitter. They said that Nigel Farage’s warning came after a series of ‘severe misdemeanours’, making reference to Andre Lampitt’s recent remarks on Ed Miliband and African people. The new rules that UKIP has put in place for its members, forbidding them to use its logo on social media without express permission, were reported as being ‘draconian’. Le Monde also reported the dichotomy between UKIP maintaining that these rules had been put in place to clamp down on false UKIP twitter accounts, and the fact that Steve Crowther, UKIP secretary, said publicly that he himself had no Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and that it was ‘lovely’.
Le Monde also picked up on the fact that this week Scotland Yard has announced that it is investigating claims that a paedophile group consisting of MPs and public figures existed in the 1980s to 1990s. The police is also investigation the possible death of three young boys in relation to this scandal, which Le Monde describes as ‘multiplying the scandals over the channel’. Le Monde mentioned the revelations that came to light last summer, where 140 dossiers supposedly containing information on sexual abuse of young boys disappeared. According to Le Monde, all of this recalls the widely impacting Savile scandal, revealed in 2011.
Also reported in Le Monde was appointment of Libby Lane as the Church of England’s first female bishop. Le Monde reports that this ends ‘centuries of masculine dominance in the clerical hierarchy’, and reminds that is 20 years since women were allowed to become priests, and that female priests now make up a third of the clergy. Female bishops will also now be allowed to enter in the House of Lords. However, Le Monde also picked up on the fact that the British press had pointed out that Libby Lane will probably not enter into the House of Lords, as she is head of a secondary parish, and not from either Southwell, Nottingham, Gloucester, Oxford or Newcastle.
Also covered by Le Monde was the announcement by Orange and Deutsche Telecom that they were planning to sell their UK operations, EE, and that BT was the likely acquirer. Orange is a French telecommunications group that until 2010 was one of the high street UK telecommunications brands, along with Vodaphone, 3 and O2. Le Monde reports that Orange would receive a cheque of 5.9 billion euros for the sale of EE. According to Le Monde, Orange’s principal motivation for the sale is that it needs money; it is buying the Spanish telecommunications group Jazztel for 4.3 billion euros. Orange also has debts of about 31 billion euros. Le Monde said that the management of Orange don’t see its retreat from the British market as a defeat, as EE detains 33% of the market share. However, in order to make savings, the merger with Deutsche Telecom, and the subsequent sale to BT means that Orange has now totally disappeared from the British market.

Le Figaro

This week Le Figaro published an Opinion Way poll that it had commissioned. This poll asked Europeans whether they would vote yes or no to their country staying in the European Union. The poll suggested that in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, the no vote could win. This recalls an article published by Le Figaro in May of this year, in which it reported that only 51% of French wanted France to stay in the European Union, in comparison to 67% ten years ago. 38% of French people oppose France being actively involved in the EU, as opposed to 25% ten years ago. Those who oppose European membership, or even a close alliance with Brussels, all cite unemployment, loss of benefits, a rise in the number of immigrants, and a loss of national identity and culture as being consequences of integration into the European Union.
Le Figaro wrote that Christmas sales in the UK have risen the highest amount this year since 1988, largely thanks to the American inspired ‘Black Friday’ phenomenon. The combination of Black Friday discounts and a general lowering of prices in the run up to Christmas have encouraged customers to go shopping or buy products on line. A few French stores, such as the home-wares shop Darty, and the bookshop Fnac have done the same in France, where it is seen as a very American import.
Also in Le Figaro this week was an article about the detainment of a young girl on a plane about to take off at Heathrow. The young girl was reportedly on her way to Syria to join the ranks of the Islamic State. It reported that she came from the ‘underprivileged’ area of Tower Hamlets, in London. The authrorities believe that more than 500 British men and women have left the UK in order to go and fight in Syria over the course of war, half of which have already come back to the UK.
The French energy group EDF is selling a large stake in three of its UK windmill parks in Newcastle, York and Peterborough to the Chinese company CGN, Le Figaro reported.