Opinion: Susanna Siddell

Brexit and the EU this week – From G&Ts to Custard Creams - 12th February 2021

The temperature has now hit minus figures across the continent, and the icy relationship between the UK and the EU might just be to blame. Lord David Frost and Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove have shared their thoughts on the matter.

When are we having gin and tonic with the EU, Mr Gove?

To his dismay, chief Brexit negotiator Lord David Frost admitted that the new UK-EU relationship had not gotten off to the start he originally imagined.

With the past month riddled with rows over the status of a diplomat, vaccine exports to Northern Ireland, and overall border controls, it has come as no surprise that Lord Frost has suggested that Brussels try out “a different spirit” looking to the future.

Lord Frost explained that the UK did not want to have this sort of icy relationship with the EU.

He said the UK’s aim was always “friendly cooperation between sovereign equal as our vision of the future” and admitted that he did not think the behaviour displayed over the past few weeks best conveyed this hope.

He mentioned that the EU is “still adjusting somewhat” to “the existence of a genuinely independent actor in their neighbourhood.”

Regarding this matter, Michael Gove commented:

“We all know that when an aeroplane takes off, that is the point where you sometime get an increased level of turbulence.

“But eventually, you then reach a cruising altitude and the crew tell you to take your seatbelt off and enjoy a gin and tonic and some peanuts.”

“We are not at the gin and tonic and peanut stage yet, but I am confident we will be.”

If that’s not an aspirational end-goal to have, I’m not sure what is.

Image: Chris McAndrew from Wikimedia Commons

New Brexit customs causing some whisky business…

Everybody seems to be snatching up British goods across EU countries, with Scotch whisky sold out in the French capital and Brussels fresh out of custard creams.

This shock has come as a result of British companies suspending exports due to the excessive paperwork that many do not believe is worth their time, including a new health certificate.

Now, customers of some twenty M&S stores across France face bare shelves and a serious deficit of good old-fashioned Scottish whisky.

However, the struggle from costly and time-consuming paperwork is not exclusive to the big British brands. A small chain of stores in Belgium, called Stonemanor, has entirely sold out of everyone’s favourite staple snacks, from Digestives to Walker’s shortbread.

After being open for almost forty years, it has now had to close up shop due to supply shortages.

The store manager said: “Our main delivery is still unconfirmed, so if that doesn’t come in, it looks like we’ll have to shut for a longer period of time until we can guarantee supplies.”

“You can’t have a supermarket running with no stock on the shelves. We’re shipping hundreds of products in one truck and each product needs a different set of paperwork to go along with it.”

Image: Andre Richard Chalmers from Wikimedia Commons

Cabinet Officer Michael Gove has faced recent calls for action to help those exporting British goods to overseas stores and chains, but the government has not yet laid out a course of action.