France's President Emmanuel Macron and Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May inspect troops at Sandhurst Military Academy, Britain, January 18, 2018.
CAIRO – 12 December 2018: The ‘yellow vest’, translated to the ‘gilets jaunes’, movement that has left France’s capital, Paris, scared, fragmented and in a state of mess; it has also given a boost to British Prime Minister Thereasa May’s Brexit deal.
Amid growing concerns over the inability of May to create a deal that would ensure the United Kingdom can reap similar benefits to that which it enjoyed while being part of the European Union, while also not paying any of the related fees, the protests in France have pushed many to speak of a wave of protests that could soon hit Europe, at the forefront of which will be the disenfranchised youth and economically marginalized groups.
Less than a week ago, May’s deal had proven so weak, and she was so sure of losing the House of Commons vote that she got up in the middle of Parliament and said, “if we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow the deal would be rejected by a significant margin”. She was referring here to the fact that more than 100 of her Conservative Party colleagues had voiced their concerns, suggesting that the deal does not actually meet the promises made during the Brexit campaign, and, as a result, they will not vote yes.
The lack of approve that May faces from her party and the internal conflicts and tricks have not gone unnoticed to the public or to the Labour Party, pushing one of the two biggest political parties in the United Kingdom, headed by James Corbyn, to announce that if May does not deliver the desired results from her emergency negotiations, they will schedule a vote on no confidence, throwing the British Premier out of No. 10.
“She will have decisively and unquestionably lost the confidence of parliament,” the Labour Party announced.
Even hard Brexiters and Conservative Party felt cheated of what they were promised.
The situation is so tangled that, according to The Guardian, Cabinet sources voiced a multitude of concerns over the deal and the change of the voting time, with one saying, “There doesn’t seem to be any sort of plan.”
In hot water, with no clear plan and unsure what to do, the protests in France may have very well bettered the situation for May.
The ‘yellow vest’ movement started late November 2018, with hundreds—now thousands—of French men and women protesting the jump in oil prices and the increase of living costs, the movement soon grew broader to encompass French President Emmanuel Macron’s economic decisions.
The movement called out the economy’s developmental trajectory, speaking of the lack of opportunities and the disenfranchisement of the youth, as well as the marginalization of the working class.
“Until now, we were desperate on our own. Now we are desperate together,” one of the ‘yellow vest’ movement members told The Guardian.
Another protester told the Express that the movement was much bigger than gas taxes and prices going up, it was about much more.
“We want this movement to spread. It began in France, it is in Belgium, and we want it to continue to Germany and the Netherlands, across Europe, even to England,” the protester said.
Whilst all this may be heart-breaking and downright scary for Macron, one man’s loss is another man—in this case, woman’s—gain. For in his sorrow, she has floated, strengthening her chances of keeping her Premiership.
The break down that was seen on French streets re-enforced a message once pushed by the British Administration: A step back from Brexit could lead to social fragmentation. A the time U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Times that lawmakers must “not just think about what our own views on Brexit are, but we have to think what is the solution that is going to bring the country together.” He also warned that the House of Commons has to be “very careful” not to “get out of step with where the public are on Brexit” or risk “real social instability.”
While this strategy did not work at the time, many British people are now talking about the possibility of riots if the deal does not go through, with many thinking that if it could happen in France, then it very well could happen in the United Kingdom.
Add to this that the French trade has taken a hit since the start of the protests, with French Minister of the Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire warning of the negative consequences the protests have on the French economy.
“It's a time when normally business is going well, it's the eve of Christmas celebrations, and now, it's a catastrophe. It's a catastrophe for business, it's a catastrophe for our economy.”
“The bills for the damages must be covered by the state, by solidarity, by the insurers,” the French Minister continued.
With the French Economy taking a hit, and protesters taking abut economic issues more widely, May is now able to convince the public and her fellow colleagues in the House that she is saving the country from a sure disaster.
France being one of the two strongest countries—along with Germany—leading the EU after the UK leaves also helps May draw a stronger argument for leaving the EU, even with a deal that does not meet the people’s demands.
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