A French tourist says he is glad the UK is leaving the EU after making a trip to Devon – stating in a letter that he was disgusted by the attitude of the people.
Claiming to be Henri Philippe Petain, the man claims he recently visited Fremington, a village between Bideford and Barnstaple, in North Devon on a six-day holiday.
‘Henri’, who lives in Fremington’s twinned village, Colombelles in France, said he was “taken aback by the attitude of most people” he had the “displeasure to meet” and says he is “glad the British have chosen to leave the European Project”.
In a letter to the local paper, the North Devon Journal, Monsieur Petain wrote: “Having just returned to France after an eventful six-day visit to our twin town of Fremington, I was somewhat taken aback by the attitude of most people I had the displeasure to meet.
“For it confirmed what the great French leader Charles De Gaulle said at the time Britain was in negotiations to join the then EEC, ‘The British are an island race and never have been, nor will they be, European at heart’, and that’s certainly true of people in the North Devon area.
“Therefore I am glad the British have chosen to leave the European Project, it now means France along with Germany can move forward as one, without having to look back over the channel as to what the British will do next to sabotage the centuries-old dream of unity.
“After the fall of France in 1940 with the British army having scurried back over the channel with their tails between their legs leaving France to her fate Von Ribbentrop, the then German foreign minister, looking toward Dover told the French, ‘our common enemy now lies over there’, and as far as I am concerned Europe’s enemy still does.”
Frank Biederman, Independent councilor for Fremington, said: “I was surprised and a little suspicious of the letter. It seemed designed to cause friction and certainly had a political agenda behind it.
“We in Fremington pride ourselves on our community spirit, with many clubs and groups taking place for all ages.
“We are very proud to currently have North Devon’s no 1 Cafe, Fremington Quay Cafe who won the award at last weeks North Devon Journal Tourism awards, voted for by the public.
“The youth football club last year won the active devon club of the year award.
“The Fremington Community Group are also the current winners of the North Devon journal community group of the year.
“The school children at the local primary school are recognised by ofsted for their politeness, kind nature and welcome visitors to the school and take great pride in their school.
“Our annual music festival also welcomes visitors from far and Wide with open arms.
“I do not know who our French visitor met on his visit, but my local enquiries have not turned up any one official, including members of the twinning association, but I would very much like to invite him to come again so I can show him the true Fremington if he wishes to do so.”
But the letter may be a hoax, as Henri Philippe Pétain was a French general who reached the distinction of Marshal of France, and died in 1951.
Marshal Pétain later served as the Chief of State of Vichy France also known as the French State (Chef de l’État Français), from 1940 to 1944.
Pétain, who was 84 years old in 1940, ranks as France’s oldest head of state.