Monday, 3 April 2017
Yellow Perils and the EU
There was something wonderful at the weekend about a couple of unrelated stories that nevertheless formed a connection in my mind. First there was that of the village of Bibury in Gloucestershire in which a pensioner has parked his yellow car to the consternation and annoyance of other, probably well heeled, villagers who no doubt drive more conservatively coloured cars. I'm guessing it is a village full of 4X4s and silver Mercedes Benzes, Audis and BMWs. The residents of the village ply their trades, I'm guessing, in towns and cities far from Bibury, but, when they get home to their admittedly beautiful surroundings are oddly offended by a bright yellow car.
Many years ago now I used to drive a yellow car. It was an MGB GT in bright yellow. Other MGB drivers used to flash their lights at me and wave as we passed one another. This was because they drove the same model rather than just a colour. But perhaps now yellow car drivers should unite in similar fashion. This is a free country. You may drive your car wherever you wish regardless of the supposed aesthetic considerations of the snobs who may share your picturesque surroundings with you. Who are these aesthetes anyway? Are they curators of a 1950s sensibility? Do they drive around the village in Morris Travellers, drink warm beer, complain when people wear jeans and about that new fangled rock and roll music? Or is it just the colour they object to? In which case who are they to say what is acceptable and unacceptable?
Fortunately at the weekend yellow car drivers turned out in force in a show of solidarity to the elderly gent whose car has been picked on in this unpleasant way. That's more like it.
This is the sort of thing we are leaving the EU for. Britain and Britons will not be bullied and coerced by people who think they know best and are determined to make us all some bland homogeneous whole in the spirit of being more European, whatever that means.
Because it has also emerged this weekend that they are trying to tie the issue of Britain's deal with the EU to Gibraltar. Gibraltar! Now I happily concede that us holding this tiny strip of land off the arse end of Spain is something of an anomaly. But it is a harmless and long standing anomaly and one supported by 99% of Gibraltarians. We all know that the sodding EU has a problem with democracy, but you would think that even they might concede that they don't have much of a leg to stand on with those kind of numbers. Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU last June. It was the first result of the night, although that was as good as it got for Remain. But now, given the choice, they wish to remain British rather than become Spanish and thus stay in the EU. And this despite decades of Spanish chuntering and bullying and blocking of the border for no better reason than they have their noses out of joint and see this as a matter of national pride.
Gibraltar is British. It is British thanks to a treaty of 1713 that they freely entered into, even if it now suits them to seek to renegotiate it by underhand methods.
If this is how the EU intends to conduct these negotiations then we might as well call them off right now. Because if so they fundamentally misunderstand the British character. We are slow to anger, often unreasonably reasonable. But we will not be bullied. And we cannot abide injustice, unfairness and cheating.
The Government, happily, has said very clearly - for once them saying 'very clearly' actually means what it says - that the status of Gibraltar is non negotiable. Good. It would be as well for them to make similar stipulations about a few other things that the EU, which is entirely overplaying its hand, is trying to impose on us. We won't talk about the so called terms of the divorce until they make us an offer about the relationship we are to have in the future. Why would we? We are under no obligation to pay them anything, but a generous offer will likely make a payment deal more politically amenable. So be generous. And stop talking about Gibraltar.
And really what is so hard about doing a deal on free trade? You are trying to negotiate free trade deals with the rest of the world. You already have one with us so just continue it. Freedom of movement? Forget it. But we might be prepared to offer most favoured nation status for your citizens.
Oh and to show willing we should offer a unilateral deal on EU citizens already here. But an end to benefits being exported. That is fair, it is equitable. Now let's stop grandstanding and start talking.