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Should I Stay or Should I Go? A Brit’s Dilemma in the Changing Tides of French Politics

When I first set foot in France with my husband, I never imagined I would fall in love with it so profoundly. The romance of its cobblestone streets, the scent of fresh baguettes in the morning air, and the melodious murmur of French conversations enchanted me beyond measure. Now, years have passed, and France feels like home, a home I cherish deeply. But recently, a dark cloud of uncertainty has settled over my idyllic existence here. As a British expatriate raising her family here, the rise of Rassemblement National (RN) and the possibility of Marine Le Pen’s leadership are threatening to unravel the very fabric of my family life in this beloved country. Should I stay or should I go? This question torments me daily.

When I moved to France, it was not just a change of address; it was the beginning of a love affair. From the majestic architecture of Paris to the sun-kissed vineyards of Bordeaux, every corner of this country has a story to tell. The French art of living, or “l’art de vivre,” captivated me with its emphasis on quality over quantity, on savouring moments and not just rushing through them. Here, I discovered the joy of a leisurely Sunday at a local café, the satisfaction of a perfectly prepared croissant, and the unspoken camaraderie among neighbours at the village market.

France embraced me with open arms, and I reciprocated with enthusiasm. I immersed myself in the language, customs, and culture. My British reserve slowly gave way to French joie de vivre, and I felt more at home here than I ever did back in the UK. I built friendships that feel like family and established a routine that nourishes my soul. This is my sanctuary, my place of belonging.

But now, a spectre looms large over my idyllic life. The Rassemblement National, formerly known as the National Front, is gaining momentum in French politics. Led by Marine Le Pen, the party has transformed its image from a fringe right-wing movement to a formidable political force. Their policies, however, remain steeped in nationalism and exclusion. For me and my family, an immigrant, their rise to power feels like a personal attack on our right to exist in this country.

Le Pen’s manifesto, if you’ve had the stomach to read it, is a chilling blueprint for an exclusionary society. It reeks of xenophobia, with proposals that would make life increasingly difficult for immigrants. She talks about “national preference” in employment, housing, and social benefits—a euphemism for putting immigrants at the bottom of the heap. There’s a call for stricter immigration controls, including the abolition of the jus soli, or birthright citizenship. Under her leadership, France would turn its back on the very values that made it a beacon of liberty, equality, and fraternity.

The fear of the unknown gnaws at me. If Le Pen and the RN come to power, what will become of my family? Will we be forced to leave the country we have grown to love so deeply? The uncertainty is like a dark cloud hanging over my everyday life. Every news update about the political landscape sends a shiver down my spine and today we wait with anticipation. The prospect of packing up my life and moving back to the UK is not just daunting—it feels like a heartbreak.

The UK, once familiar, now seems like a foreign land. Since Brexit, it has become increasingly insular, and the thought of returning to that environment fills me with dread. The vibrant, diverse society I cherish here in France would be replaced by a country grappling with its own identity crisis. I would miss the spontaneous conversations in French, the serendipity of new experiences, and the sense of belonging I have found in my local community.

Marine Le Pen’s manifesto is not just a political document; it is a nightmare that comes to life for immigrants. It reads like a dystopian vision of the future, where people like us are unwelcome, where our contributions and existence are deemed irrelevant. Le Pen’s policies on immigration are harsh and unforgiving. She advocates for the dismantling of Schengen, which would reintroduce border controls and severely limit the free movement that has been a cornerstone of the European Union.

Her stance on dual nationality is particularly alarming. Le Pen proposes to abolish dual nationality for non-European citizens, a move that would force many immigrants, including us, to choose between their country of birth and their adopted homeland. This policy is not just an administrative change; it is a cruel ultimatum that undermines the identity and security of countless individuals who, like us, have woven their lives into the fabric of French society.

Le Pen’s economic policies are equally concerning. The “national preference” agenda extends to the job market, where she aims to prioritize French citizens for employment over foreigners. This kind of xenophobic rhetoric not only stigmatizes immigrants but also threatens to erode the social cohesion that has been a hallmark of French society. The idea of being pushed to the margins, of being treated as an outsider in a place I call home, is terrifying.

Living in this state of limbo is an emotional rollercoaster. One moment, I am resolute in my decision to stay and fight for my right to remain in France. The next, I am overwhelmed with despair at the thought of being uprooted. I oscillate between hope and fear, between determination and resignation. The uncertainty is exhausting, and the emotional toll is immense.

There are days when I am filled with a fierce determination to stay and weather the storm. I remind myself of the reasons I fell in love with France in the first place. I think about the friends who have become like family, the local customs that have become my own, and the sense of community that gives my life meaning. These are not things I can easily walk away from. They are the anchors that keep me grounded, the reasons I want to fight for my place here.

But there are also days when the fear overwhelms me, dragging my son away from people and places that have shaped him over the years, I shudder! The thought of being forced to leave the country I love, of starting over in a place that no longer feels like home, is paralyzing. The idea of packing up my memories and leaving behind the life we have built is almost too painful to contemplate.

At the heart of this dilemma is a battle for belonging. It’s about more than just where I live; it’s about where I feel at home. France has given me a sense of identity and purpose that I never found in the UK. It has allowed me to grow and thrive in ways I never imagined possible. The thought of losing that, of being cast adrift in a sea of uncertainty, is heartbreaking.

But as much as I fear the future, I also know that I cannot give up without a fight. The values that drew me to France—liberty, equality, fraternity—are worth defending. I owe it to myself and to all the other immigrants who have found a home here to stand up against the forces of exclusion and intolerance. This is not just about my future; it’s about the future of a society that has always been a beacon of hope and opportunity for people from all walks of life.

So, should I stay or should I go? The answer is not clear-cut, and it may never be. But what I do know is that I cannot let fear dictate my choices. I have to weigh my options, consider the consequences, and make a decision that aligns with my values and aspirations and of course my family.

Staying in France means fighting for my right to remain in a country that has become my home. It means standing up to the forces of intolerance and exclusion and advocating for a society that values diversity and inclusion. It means holding onto the hope that France will continue to be a place where people from all walks of life can find a sense of belonging.

Leaving, on the other hand, means seeking safety and stability in the face of uncertainty. It means returning to a country that, while familiar, no longer feels like home. It means leaving behind the life I have built and starting over in a place that may not offer the same opportunities for growth and fulfilment.

In the end, the decision to stay or go is deeply personal, and there are no easy answers. It’s a decision that requires careful consideration of the risks and rewards, of the known and the unknown. But no matter what the future holds, I am determined to face it with courage and resilience.

France has taught me to savour the moments, embrace the beauty in the every day, and fight for what I believe in. And so, as I stand at this crossroads, I am reminded that life is full of uncertainties, but it is also full of possibilities. Whether I stay or go, I will carry with me the lessons and the love that this beautiful country has given me. And that, I believe, is something worth fighting for.

In these times of uncertainty, we must hold onto hope and remember that our stories are not defined by the challenges we face, but by how we choose to overcome them. So, should I stay or should I go? The answer may not be clear, but I know that whatever path I choose, I will walk it with courage, with hope, and with a heart full of love for the place I have come to call home.

Fingers crossed today goes well!

Tia XoX

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