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30 January 2020

So now we know what Brexit means for your holiday plans

The Leavers are celebrating their victory – as the government admits quite how much paperwork you’ll now need to cross the Channel.

By Jonn Elledge

One possible and under-discussed upside of Brexit is that one day, finally, we will all stop paying attention to Nigel Farage. But that day, if it ever comes at all, is not today. Indeed, the main topic of the ear-splitting screeching noises that have filled UK politics Twitter for the past 24 hours has been Mr Brexit’s abortive farewell speech to the European Parliament yesterday.

Here’s what happened. Farage was in full-flow about the things he didn’t like about the European Union – “No more financial contributions, no more European Court of Justice, no more common fisheries policy, no more being talked down to, no more being bullied”; oh, god – when the chamber’s vice-president Mairead McGuiness pointed out that, by triumphantly waving Union Jacks at the assembled gathering, he was in breach of the parliament’s rules against displaying unapproved national symbols.

Nigel Farage, being Nigel Farage, declined to stop, and so his microphone was turned off mid-speech. The Brexit Party delegation jeeringly took themselves off to the bar to celebrate their victory. Makes you proud to be British, doesn’t out? Wait, no, not “proud”, the other one.

In the first paragraph, incidentally, when I referred to Farage as “Mr Brexit” I didn’t mention that this was a moniker he’s now, upsettingly, adopted for himself. Earlier today, reports the Telegraph’s Michael Deacon, the great man unveiled a portrait of himself with that very title. The unveiling was followed by a speech from one-time comedian Jim Davidson. Funny the way the Earth never opens up and swallows you when you really want it to, isn’t it?

As silly as all this looks to many of us, the Leave side have sort of earned their triumphalism. They won. This is their big week. I disagree with them that Brexit is in any way a good thing, but it’s sort of churlish to be annoyed that people want to celebrate their success. Sick-making as Remoaners like myself may find it, we should let them have their fun.

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I do sometimes wonder how long this glee will persist, though. Today, the government unveiled its new travel advice on visiting Europe from 1 January next year. In recent years, travelling to Europe has required almost exactly no paperwork, that being the entire point of freedom of movement. From next year, though, while you won’t need a visa for a short trip, you will if you’re planning to stay for more than 90 days, to study, or for business travel. You’ll also need to check you’ve got travel insurance that provides healthcare, fill in extra forms to drive, and declare any significant sums of money. Oh, the era free mobile phone roaming may well be over, too. (More from the BBC’s Lewis Goodall here.)

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Call me cynical, but I am not convinced that the fact that freedom of movement is ending for British people wanting to travel to the continent, as well as vice versa, has entirely sunk in with the British public. And the government has made remarkably little effort to alert us to the fact – indeed Boris Johnson literally denies that Brexit will have any effect on your holiday in his current pinned tweet.

Once travelling to France or Spain is a pain in the arse once again, some might just start to wonder whether this whole Brexit thing was all it’s cracked up to be.

Good day for…

Fans of a competitive Lib Dem leadership race, after a source close to Edinburgh West MP Christine Jardine confirmed that she was planning to stand. You can read Ailbhe’s scoop here.

Bad day for

Remainers, who are having a real roller coaster of a week, aren’t they? Blimey. Anyway, today’s problem: Tony Blair is cross with them. He told Alona that it was a “terrible mistake to ever agree to a Brexit general election, as people like me tried to tell the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats. But we did it, we paid the price for it. We’ve lost the debate and Brexit is now going to happen.” There are more extracts here – but for the full interview you need to buy this week’s New Statesman.

Quote of the day

“I’ve always had impostor syndrome”

Satirist Armando Iannucci, an actual hero of mine, reminding us once again that the world’s supplies of self-confidence were distributed to all the wrong people. The quote comes from an interview with Anoosh, which largely concerns his new film The Personal History of David Copperfield.

Everybody is talking about…

Coronovirus, whether the ache in their bones means they might have it, and whether they should cancel their upcoming trip to eastern Asia. The death toll is still edging worryingly upwards. In lighter news, however, some wag at Insider forced Corona Beer to deny that it was in any way worried that the crisis could hit sales.

Everybody should be talking about…

Britain’s ongoing shortage of houses. Today the government’s “Building Better, Building Beautiful” Commission (yes, that’s really its name) published its report on how the scourge of NIMBYism could be defeated through better design. I am unconvinced, but if you want to know what’s in the report there’s a good write-up by John Myers on CityMetric.


Questions? Comments? Drop me an email.

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