It is not often that I mention politics in my working life. However, I have been so moved by the love and support that has been extended to us by our French friends here in Nérac that I wanted to say ‘thank-you’. Thank you for the warmth of your acceptance of us and our businesses to the area. Thank you for the incredible support that our friends and neighbours, UK and French alike, within the local community have extended, especially when we first moved and it was all quite overwhelming without many language skills to assist. Thank you for your continued love and support and encouragement.
And thank you for your love and understanding at our sadness today.
It was also heart-warming to hear about the European MEP response in the European Parliament today and to read this from the President of the Regional Council of Nouvelle-Aquitaine (of which Nérac and Lot-et-Garonne is a part)…
Most of you know my thoughts and strong feelings regarding this issue. European at my very core, full of admiration for Great Britain’s culture and history, I wish the ‘Remain’ side had prevailed; nevertheless, no matter how ill-informed the ‘Leave’ campaign was, the people spoke.
And so, for better or for worse, we are now standing at the beginning of a new era.
Of course, like J.R.R Tolkien’s character Frodo of the Lord of the Rings, we might feel despair, and wish that none of this had never happened. But let us remember Tolkien’s wise words in response, through Gandalf: “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
And let me be crystal clear: Brexit doesn’t change a thing between Nouvelle-Aquitaine and its British residents. On the contrary, I firmly believe that it will make us more aware of all that we share, as well as cherish it more. Brexit will not erase our centuries-old shared traditions – as president of our region, I’ll make sure of that.
In the words of Winston Churchill : “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” More than ever, let us all be optimists!
In our vast and beautiful region, many British people are part of our lives. It is a long-rooted tradition, dating back to Aliénor d’Aquitaine. Indeed, whether you are living, working or travelling in our lands, we Frenchmen are used to your colorful presence, our cultures intertwining for the best. And by doing so, living side by side, I believe we have learned a lot from each other.
As president of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, I cherish what we built together. So, let me tell you something: Brexit or no Brexit, I have no intention whatsoever of letting anything come in the way of our special and centuries-old relationship. In short, as members of our communities, you have every right to live your lives the way you intend to. Be sure that the Nouvelle-Aquitaine – your region – will always lend you a helpful hand along the way.
In this matter, ‘Remain’ is not an option. It’s a heartfelt appeal: my own, because you are here to stay.
All the best
President of the Regional Council of Nouvelle-Aquitaine