Opinion: Susanna Siddell

Brexit and the EU this week: From stolen sandwiches to troubles with tours – 5th February 2021

As January has come to a close (after admittedly what feels like an eternity), we now have the joy of looking back at the first month of 2021 and see how the UK is faring on its own – and it seems to be handling the Brexit breakup by doing a lot more than listening to Taylor Swift and impulsively grabbing a box of hair dye at the self-checkout. The time has now come for the UK to decide whether it wants to be the Beyoncé or Michelle of Europe, as dramatic as that may sound.

Image: Christian Lue from Unsplash

When we are bombarded with nothing but news about lockdown and squabbles over whose vaccines are whose, it is very easy for other stories to fly under the radar. Never fear, I have listed a couple of stories from January that you might have missed.

The one with the sandwich

No, this is not about what I consider one of Ross’ most gripping storylines of Friends.

Instead, it is set in the Netherlands, when Dutch border officials began confiscating ham sandwiches amongst other foodstuffs from UK drivers. This has come as a result of new import regulations post-Brexit, which state that no meat or dairy products may cross the border.

A Dutch border official told a driver: “Since Brexit, you are no longer allowed to bring certain foods to Europe, like meat, fruit vegetables, fish, that kind of stuff.”

When asked, the driver admitted that his sandwiches had meat in them, and was taken aback when he was informed that he was not allowed to keep the bread either.

The border official responded: “No, everything will be confiscated – welcome to the Brexit, sir. I’m sorry.”

The UK government has sent out a warning to those who must travel between countries about these new regulations.

(Please) Don’t Stop the Music

Issues have arisen for British musicians, as they, under new Brexit rules, are no longer guaranteed visa-free travel, and potentially will need more documentation to perform in other countries.

An increasing amount of pressure is being put on the government to jump into action and help resolve these problems that musicians across the country are now facing. A petition that seeks a Europe-wide work permit for “music touring professionals, bands, musicians, artists, TV and sports celebrities” has been supported by the likes of Ronan Keating, Louis Tomlinson, Biffy Clyro and Dua Lipa.

Image: ActionVance from Unsplash

However, despite collecting over 283,000 signatures, the government responded, saying: “During our negotiations, we proposed measures to allow creative professional to travel and perform in both the UK and EU, without needing work-permits. Unfortunately, the EU rejected these proposals.”

The government has kept many hopeful as they confirmed that “the door remains open” for future discussions with the EU on the matter.