A year of post-Brexit bickering has left the French and the British feeling significantly less well disposed towards each other, a poll shows.
After ill-tempered exchanges over everything from fishing to submarines and Covid travel rules to the Northern Ireland protocol, the YouGov poll found that favourable opinions of the British had slid in France and other EU countries.
Data from YouGov’s EuroTrack survey shows the proportion of French people saying they held an unfavourable view of Britain surged to 42% in November from 33% in August, while the number holding a positive view fell from 53% to 46%.
And Britons are taking a correspondingly critical view of France, with the proportion holding a negative opinion of the UK’s nearest continental neighbour rising from 31% to 40%, and those with a favourable view falling from 56% to 47%.
Recently it was reported that Emmanuel Macron had privately called Boris Johnson a clown in charge of a circus, after the prime minister tweeted a letter calling on France take back people who had crossed the Channel illegally.
Tensions between London and Paris that built up over five years of Brexit talks have been exacerbated by a series of increasingly heated cross-Channel disagreements, some related to the fallout from the UK’s departure from the EU but others not.
Johnson’s remarks that Paris should “prenez un grip and donnez-moi un break” ruffled French feathers at the end of the summer, while more recent rows over fishing licences and small boat crossings have strained Anglo-French ties further.
Negative European views of Britain are not restricted to the French, however. The survey of 15 countries found that people in Spain and Germany were more hostile towards Britain in November than they were over the summer.
Fully half of Spaniards said they had an unfavourable opinion of Britain, sharply up from 38% in August, while Germany showed a more modest increase of 41% to 45%, mirrored by a four-point drop in favourable opinions of the UK to 43%.