A rightwing French mayor has named a street in his town “rue de Brexit”, but the joke quickly rebounded on him when it emerged that the thoroughfare in question was a circular road to nowhere.
Julien Sanchez called his decision to name the street in the southern town of Beaucaire a “homage to the decision of the sovereign British people” to leave the European Union.
The town council selected for the honour a previously unnamed street located near the rue Robert Schuman and avenue Jean Monnet – both named after founding fathers of the EU.
A rising figure in Marine Le Pen’s Front National, Sanchez, 33, announced his salute to the UK referendum result via Twitter. Accompanying his message was the 23-to-nine vote sheet by Beaucaire’s city council on 22 December giving birth to rue du Brexit.
French tweets were split between approval and denunciation, with critics lamenting the use of jargon for a street name, “and an Anglicism to boot”. Some noted gleefully that the street itself is a circular road to nowhere through a rather bleak part of town.
Others commented that the street’s situation between Schuman and Monnet meant that it was leading from Europe back to Europe again.
“It’s a street in an industrial zone, and isn’t going to shake up the daily lives of Beaucaire residents,” Sanchez told radio France Bleu. But he added that so many streets in France are named after founders of a “Europe smothering the people” that he felt the creation of rue du Brexit “is justified to rebalance things”.
By giving Brexit a fixed anchor in Beaucaire, meanwhile, Sanchez created an attention-grabbing reminder of Le Pen’s promise to hold a referendum on France’s EU membership should she win next year’s presidential elections.
Situated in the Gard department, about 18 miles (30km) east of Nîmes, 17th-century Beaucaire lies in what became one of the FN’s first electoral strongholds. Nearby Saint-Gilles elected France’s first Front National mayor in 1989, with Sanchez’s 2014 election in Beaucaire one of its more recent wins on pledges to halt immigration and restore law and order.