In Boulogne

Did the artist understand

Hands extended across the waters of La Manche

Would be a friendship

So easily diluted?

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n.b. This piece of ironwork is a suitably trite jokey comment on the tenuous connections between England and France that stands in Boulogne-sur-mer.

Boulogne was an assembly point for the invading Romans, the forces of Napoleon’s armada that did not set sail, as well as the likely jumping off point for the Nazis, who thanks to the RAF (with its young pilots from the UK, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Poland and Czechoslovakia (amongst other places), also never set sail.

The economy of Boulogne was hit hard when cross-Channel ferries stopped calling there following the opening of the “Chunnel”, the 50km railway tunnel linking England with France. This wondrous feat of Anglo-French engineering started after UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and French President Jacques Chirac signed off the project in 1987.

Following Brexit it is likely that smuggling will prove lucrative once more between the coasts of Northern France and Southern England, an industry that was prolific over 200 years ago when trade barriers and protectionism was in full force.

Incidentally it was protectionism enforced by the English on its thirteen colonies of North America that led to the Revolutionary War of 1775 – 1783. The French weighed in successfully on the side of the colonies from 1778 to ensure the Americans won their independence.

However, the expense of joining this colonial war contributed to the impoverishment of the French treasury leading in part to the French Revolution of 1789.

Who knows where Brexit leads? The notions of “United” and “Kingdom” both look increasingly fragile.

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CLP 27/02/2020

Published by

Christopher Perry

Liberté, Equalité, Humanité

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