which serves to confirm why he is a clever honourable chap
Or there are those who disagree - The extremely rich and privileged owner of the DMGT - Lord Rothermere and his CEO Paul Zwillenberg as todays rag perfectly illustrates
From our earlier interactions I got the impression you were a bit of a Bojo apologist Dan. Change of heart?
I found this rather interesting particularly with David Cameron’s apocryphal introduction - it’s from 2016 but relevant today methinks.
No change of heart John - Never liked Johnson - It’s just that l don’t like bullies or blackmailers, never have, never will - I’m sure you don’t either.
Dominic Grieve has been the go-to British politician for sections of the French media in the last few years, so I’ve had a few oppos to hear him speak in French and indeed his “standard French” is excellent (never heard him speak everyday/colloquial French so I can’t pass a judgement on that). He’s actually far more than fluent, he makes the odd mistake and stuff but he has near-native speaker fluency really, in standard French anyhow.
You can hear him here on France24 on Brexit:
and here on RTL about the terrorist attack outside Westminster in 2017:
His mother was Franco-English, seems like she grew up in France but at some point she moved to England, not sure when. For him to have reached that level of proficiency and near flawless accent, I’d surmise that his mother must have spoken to him in French at home, at any rate he’s bound to have been immersed in French from an early age. He also may well have had a French nanny or the family had a Francophone au pair every year, something like that but it’s obvious that French was a part of his formative years. Most of this secondary education was either bilingual or fully in French as he went to the collège-lycée Charles de Gaulle French in London after his prep school.
His father, Percy Grieve (lawyer and Conservative MP) was himself fluent in French, he worked as a liaison officer for De Gaulle and the Free French from 1941 to 1943 and was a staunch Europhile & Francophile (among other foreign awards he was made Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur in 1974. He died in 1998 in Marseille).
Another politician who’s fluent in French is Denis MacShane, nice man too. I had the pleasure to meet him several times when I worked as an MFL teacher in a Rotherham LEA for six years from the mid-1990s (I then left to the North East to take up a position as 2nd in Dpt as my wife wanted to go back to her native NE. I still teach but part-time).
He was an MEP for Rotherham then and as I coordinated various language LEA-wide projects I met him on a few occasions, he came to our school a couple of times too as we were a Language College, so we organised plenty of language-related activities, including Language Weeks when we would invite keynote speakers, translation company managers etc. and he was happy to come and help, talk to the kids about the importance of languages, conduct assemblies and so on.
He loved speaking to me in French so I indulged him. He spoke good French but obviously nowhere near as fluently as Grieve. He wasn’t adverse to using a bit of colloquial French though, even the odd verlan word, so I think he may have had the edge on Dominic Grieve on this one, not sure Grieve’s verlan and street slang are much cop!
Boris Johnson speaks French too. See this YT clip from 2013:
Not terribly well, but still decently enough although he switches to English when the going gets a bit tough. Such as when he says, in English then, that he’d personally vote Remain… (at about 4 minutes in)
Only a few years after this most civilised Europhile interview on French TV, he’d opportunistically turned into an ardent Brexiter, was likening François Hollande to a concentration camp guard and was calling the French “turds”. Yep, comme disait l’autre, a year in politics is an eternity, so never mind a few years…
My MP, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, speaks French too, so I was told anyhow. Not sure how well though but her mother is/was French, from Châteauroux.
She’s from wealthy stock and in the late 1990s she became even wealthier when she married into the Trevelyan family, a well-established land & estate owner family in Northumberland and whose seat is the sublime Wallington Hall (now owned by the National Trust but the family has struck a deal with the NT and keeps a small section of this ancestral pile – fantastic gardens! The wall gardens in particular). She lives in a great big chateau near Morpeth, the Grade-I listed 17th century Netherwitton Hall. Yet another Tory MP du peuple, quoi…
I should write “lived” actually as she got divorced two years ago, she’s moved back to the London area I believe but is still MP for the Berwick-upon-Tweed constituency and probably will remain so for another decade or so as we’re now all posh in the North East! (Apart from the cities, there aren’t many Labour/Libdem seats left up here…) I reckon that this hitherto safe Libdem seat of Berwick is now a safe Tory fiefdom for her until she decides to call it a day.
I doubt she has much time for French but if I ever meet her, in a surgery or something, I might try to strike up a convo in French. Although she doesn’t seem to hold many surgeries, her predecessor, the Libdem Alan Beith (for 42 years the Berwick MP), was very close to his constituents and travelled a lot throughout the constituency but she’s kept her distance since she was elected in 2015.
She is an ardent Brexiter and was part of the ERG crew, more on the fringes of it really than in the thick of things, she never belonged to the top “fruitcake” tier I mean, the one reserved to the crème de la crème, the ERG elite swat team, the real headbangers, your Mark “I won’t be bullied by Germans” François, your Peter “The French always muck up” Bone etc. Sigh, I almost miss those cranks…