Tag Archives: Europe

Scotch Eggs – another referendum

We wandered down to the Godalming Food Festival yesterday.

I overheard somebody saying it was just like Borough Market. Perhaps that was a little overstated, but it was a cracking foodie-fest on a day that seemed – briefly – almost like summer.

All of the town’s restaurants and cafes had spilled out onto the cobbled high street, along with pop-up producers of sauces, cakes and breads, local brewers, gin distillers and cider pressers, German Wurst grillers, Thai satay skewerers, Mexican burrito constructors and Sicilian arancini makers.

We succumbed to some Thai chicken satay sticks and vegetable spring rolls, eaten messily by the bins outside Cafe Nero. And we bought some enticing Scotch eggs and a poacher’s pie from Simon’s Pies to take home.

We have just devoured the Scotch eggs for an alternative Sunday lunch, one an exotic combination of chicken and tarragon, the other piquant chorizo.

But I’m worried. Really worried.

What happens to Scotch eggs in our post-Brexit world, where it’s likely Nicola will engineer a Scexit from the United Kingdom and seek direct entry for Scotland into the EU?

We may once again be able to shape our carrots and bananas entirely to suit English tastes, but will we lose Scotch eggs?

But hold on….London’s very own Fortnum & Mason claims to have invented the crisply coated savoury snack in 1738. Possibly with some inspiration from India’s nargisi kofta, but with no help whatsoever from north of Gretna Green that I – or Wikipedia – can see.

So while we’re in a mood of defiant independence, let’s take back our eggs from Holyrood, wrap ’em with 100% English sausage meat, add a coating of fried Warburton’s breadcrumbs…and call them Brexit Eggs. Or Piccadilly Eggs.

They may be able to take our seat in Brussels, but we want our savoury eggs back.

The EU referendum – at last

So after months of facile soundbites, misinformation and angry confrontations, we finally get to vote tomorrow on whether we should Remain in the European Union, or Leave.

I’ve been hugely disappointed at the tone set by both sides, and by the way they’ve managed their campaigns.

But not surprised.

Politicians just don’t get it, do they? We want facts, reasoned debate and mutual respect. Instead we get exaggeration, lies, rancour and vitriol.

If you don’t know the answer to a specific question or issue….just say I don’t know. Or we can’t be sure.

The Remain team’s trump card has been the assumed economic implications of leaving, the challenge of securing new trade deals, and the resulting impact on jobs and incomes.

An additional strength of the Remain argument is the potential destabilisation of Europe, should the UK leave. A Brexit could be the straw that breaks the Greek camel’s back…and the Italian’s and other southern EU members’, constrained by the rigidity of the EU and suffering systemic levels of high unemployment. But could the possible disintegration of EU federalism expose us to a repeat of historic conflicts…?

The Leave team’s trump cards are immigration, and control over our borders and sovereignty. But I got very bored during the course of last night’s Great Debate, orchestrated by the BBC. The Brexit team of Boris, Gisela and Andrea were programmed to repeat their mantra at the end of every segment: Vote Leave and Take Back Control. And there were a lot of segments.

Which side can say with any honesty how the country – and Europe – will evolve over the next 10, 20, 50 years, whether we vote Remain or Leave tomorrow?

On balance, I stand by what I wrote on this blog in January – before David Cameron returned with his non-existent deal.

I embrace everything about Europe…its people, languages, history, food, wine.

Everything.

Except the bloated, bureaucratic European project that is the EU. It’s teetering on the precipice of failure, and I’m leaning heavily towards the exit door.

I’m not racist. I’m not xenophobic. And I’m not rooted in the past. But I can’t believe the status quo is sustainable.

I love Europe. But I love its separate, beautiful, independent cultures rather than its homogeneous, bureaucratic mass.

I will be voting to Leave the EU tomorrow. Not without some trepidation about the immediate financial and economic turmoil. Not without some concerns about the longer term implications for all European countries, and their interaction. And not without an expectation that it might be more awkward to travel to our beloved Italy. Or France. Or any of the other EU member states.

But my vote will be cast in the knowledge that we will be able to have more control over how we spend our taxes on our own priorities. And in the expectation that over the longer term, having more control over our borders will allow us to eliminate the obvious risks of complete freedom of movement within EU member states, and to alleviate some of the pressures on our health system, our schools and housing demand.

But I completely respect, and understand, all those who will vote to Remain.

Only time will tell whether Remaining or Leaving the EU tomorrow is the right thing to do over the long-term.

Until the next Referendum, at least.

And the only thing I’ll miss now the campaigning is finally over is the frequent airing of that brilliant musical memory from 1982…when The Clash wondered whether they should stay or go, when I first went to Bermuda, and when we all hoped that being a part of a united Europe would undoubtedly be A Good Thing.

Europe – IN or OUT?

I love Europe.

In the early 1960s, when I was just 5 or 6 and England still hadn’t won the World Cup, my pioneering parents bought a travelette (a collapsible caravan contraption). The neighbours in suburban West Wickham waved us off, and we drove all the way down to the Costa Brava, spending two weeks on the beach of a blissfully unspoiled and still quintessentially Spanish fishing village.

I honed my nascent German language skills – and snogged Bridget Heap from Clarendon House – in Koblenz, on exchanges with Detlef and his family in the 1970s.

More recently, Gill and I have whizzed all over France on Eurostar

We have a continuing addiction to all things Italian, and have just returned from skiing in bellissimo Champoluc.

In April, we’ll be going to Greece for the first time, visiting Thessaloniki to write an article for the lovely folks at Silver Travel Advisor, then moving on to historic Mount Olympus and Halkidiki.

I embrace everything about Europe…its people, languages, history, food, wine.

Everything.

Except the bloated, bureaucratic European project that is the EU. It’s teetering on the precipice of failure, and I’m leaning heavily towards the exit door.

I’m not racist. I’m not xenophobic. And I’m not rooted in the past. But I can’t believe the status quo is sustainable.

When we signed up for the Common European Market in 1973 – ratified in a 1975 referendum – could our worst fears have anticipated the reality of 2016?

  • an annual EU budget of close to €150 billion
  • more than 750 Members of the European Parliament
  • EU auditors reported that the bureaucrats had misspent €7 billion of the 2013 budgetThe auditors have refused to sign off the accounts for 20 years in a row
  • 2-speed economies of the greatly enlarged EU over protracted periods, and yet no single country being able to resort to interest rate changes to stimulate or slow down its own economy (thank goodness we stayed out of the single currency and retain the £)
  • a plethora of unwanted and stifling legislation handed down from Brussels
  • untrammelled immigration, from other EU countries and – through assimilation over time – well beyond Europe

I may sound like a Daily Telegraph reader, or – worse – a UKIP voter, but it feels like we have lost control, to differing degrees, of our sovereignty, our legislation and our borders.

And I don’t buy the IN camp’s scaremongering that our economy will collapse if we decide to exit. Yes, there will be obviously some significant adjustments required, and there may well be a reduction in GDP and a threat to some jobs. But that impact will hopefully be temporary, until we rediscover old allies, sign up new trade relationships with vibrant emerging markets, and embrace our renewed independence,

But we will regain control of our own British future for the long term.

I love Europe. But I love its separate, beautiful, independent cultures rather than its homogeneous, bureaucratic mass.

I’m walking inexorably towards the OUT door. Possibly regardless of any outwardly face-saving deal Mr Cameron might try to bring back ahead of the referendum, to persuade us to stay IN, as I fear it won’t represent substantive change.

And if we vote to leave, it might just signal the beginning of the end of the grand federal Europe project.