French farmers, who are currently blockading Paris with their tractors to protest the economic crisis facing the country’s agricultural sector, have found an unlikely hero in Jeremy Clarkson.
The controversial TV presenter has won praise from the protestors for his Amazon Prime Video Series Clarkson’s Farm, following his attempts to run his Diddly Squat Farm in the Cotswolds, and public backing of British farming.
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“We need one of our French celebrities to do the same thing as Jeremy Clarkson in Amazon Prime Series Clarkson’s Farm,” protesting French farmer Robi Leduc told a reporter from the UK’s The Telegraph newspaper.
French farmers say their sector is on the brink of collapse as incomes fall due to rising environmental regulations, red tape and competition from cheaper imports, all issues Clarkson has talked about in his show in relation to British farming.
“Everything he explained: that’s how and why we are here today,” said Leduc.
Clarkson responded to the reports with a message in French wishing the farmers “good luck from England”.
Agriculteurs français. Je parie que personne n'a jamais dit cela auparavant, mais bonne chance, venant d'Angleterre.
— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) January 30, 2024
Praise for Clarkson out of France is unexpected given his past form on ridiculing the country and in particular its cars.
In a 2021 episode of The Grand Tour, Clarkson and co-presenters Richard Hammond and James May even embarked on a spoof attempt to catapult a Citroen car back to France from the southern UK coast.
In the backdrop, Clarkson is a regular visitor to France and claims to love the country, even if he finds aspects of the culture “weird”.
“I should make it clear that I have an abiding respect for the French. I admire their almost total disregard for the feelings of others. and I much enjoy my time in their country. I even like eating their buntings. But I will admit that they are a bit weird. And you can see this in the cars they make,” he told The Times in an interview in 2021.
As of Tuesday morning, all major highways into Paris were blocked by some 500 tractors and similar operations were underway around other key French cities. Three separate convoys were also attempting to blockade the Rungis wholesale food market south of Paris which is the source of fresh food for the French capital.
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