Theme: Parties & Elections | Content Type: Journal article

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‘Friend or Foe?’: Brexit and French Bashing in the Conservative Parliamentary Party (2016–2022)

Agnès Alexandre-Collier


UK Prime Minister

| 1 min read

This article explores the extent of anti-French rhetoric in Conservative parliamentary discourse since 2016. It argues that up to the end of Liz Truss's extremely brief period of power, a fair number of Conservative MPs embarked on an escalation of tabloid-like anti-French bashing after the election of Boris Johnson, in an attempt to mimic the dramaturgy staged by their leader, while those who tried to provide a more positive discourse were left crying in the wilderness. Moreover, positive attempts to renew the relationship essentially came from MPs who had specific interests to defend, either in terms of representation of French residents in their constituencies or out of loyalty to family connections. Post-Johnson, a more realistic and sensible discourse is anticipated, but damaging traces of this populist drift are likely to continue.

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