INTERNATIONAL French-language media outlets have taken an interest in the growing disunity of the United Kingdom after new polls revealed a majority of both Scottish and Northern Irish people want a referendum on their nations’ place in the UK.

A story published today by Agence France-Presse (AFP), the world’s oldest news agency, has been picked up by outlets across the French-speaking parts of the world, including Quebec, France, Switzerland, and Belgium.

The story reports on the polls in this week’s Sunday Times, which showed that 50% of Scots want an independence referendum even with Don’t Knows included.

It claims that this is a consequence of Brexit, which was “massively rejected by Scottish voters in 2016”.

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The growing disunity in the UK, the story attributes to “les failles” of Brexit. “Les failles” may mean flaws, faults, or shortcomings in this context.

French speakers are also told of the Northern Irish poll, which found that 51% of voters in that nation want a referendum on Irish reunification.

The story says this shows another “rift in the unity of the Kingdom”.

Boris Johnson’s refusal to allow a referendum on independence in Scotland is noted, along with the “increasing pressure” on him to accept such a vote. 

Nicola Sturgeon and her hope to rejoin the EU as an independent nation are also given mention in the story, with the First Minister quoted as saying: “Boris Johnson clearly fears the verdict of the Scottish people.”

An SNP victory at the Holyrood elections in May would only increase the pressure on London to facilitate a vote, the story says. It quotes John Curtice’s analysis of the recent polls which predict a resounding majority for Sturgeon’s party at Holyrood.

The SNP’s plan to hold a referendum regardless of Westminster should there be a pro-independence majority after the May elections is covered in relative depth in the final paragraph of the story.

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It ends with a quote from the First Minister: “The question is not what I want or what Boris Johnson wants, it is about what the Scots want and there is more and more evidence that they want independence.”

The story has been published by media outlets including La Journal de Montreal, North America’s most widely read French language newspaper with a daily circulation of around 230,000, and FranceInfo, one of public service radio broadcaster Radio France’s subsidiaries.

Here’s a look at how a few of them presented the story online:


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La Presse. A Canadian paper based in Montreal which now runs entirely digital, having stopped printing papers in 2017. The paper supports a federal Canadian model and had a circulation of more than 260,000 in 2011.

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La Dernière Heure. A Belgian paper with a reported readership of around 400,000 people across digital and paper.

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L’Avenir. Another Belgian outlet which owns and runs regional daily newspapers across the country under the one umbrella name.

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20 minutes. A French-language daily newspaper which is offered for free and aimed at commuters. It is available across major cities in France and Switzerland, and boasts a readership of more than 2 million in Paris alone.

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RTL. This is from their Belgian site, but the Luxembourg-based media giant operates around 100 radio and TV stations across several European countries.

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BlueNews. A part of the media conglomerate which runs the most popular pay TV service in Switzerland. It offers cinema, gaming, TV, sports, and news.

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The quoted story, originally written in French, has been translated using an online service. You can find it on the Canadian La Presse here.