Blog: If the EU wants us to regret Brexit, it’s got a funny way of showing it –

A summer holiday abroad looks more and more unlikely. But perhaps that’s for the best. Look at the mad new rule they’ve got in Spain, for example. Everyone will be made to wear face masks – even while sunbathing.

Imagine the tan line. All round your mouth you’d have a big patch of skin that’s a completely different colour from the rest of your face. You’d go home looking like Homer Simpson. The men, at least, could cover it up by growing a beard. For the women, that might be a bit of a challenge.

Chances are, then, that most of us will be spending our holidays in Britain. Nothing wrong with that, of course. But the idea seems to have brought great amusement to some in the EU – if this extraordinary quote is anything to go by.

Speaking to a British journalist from CNN this week, a senior EU diplomat – who, perhaps wisely, insisted on remaining nameless – sent the following message to the UK.

“You might feel very happy on your little island when you are all vaccinated,” he or she smirked. “But your island might feel very small when you cannot leave it because your neighbours are not vaccinated!”

Your little island, indeed. What nerve. What contempt. What sneering disdain.

As insults go, however, it doesn’t strike me as tremendously effective. Mainly because it’s complete nonsense.

I mean, come off it. Our “little island” will “feel very small”? My dear Monsieur or Madame diplomat, we’ve spent the past 12 months under house arrest. After that, our little island is going to feel absolutely enormous. A trip to the seaside will make us feel like Francis Drake. At the end of the day we’ll rush home, breathless to report the wonders we’ve seen.

“Your Majesty, I bring news of a far-flung land, filled with untold mystery and delight. Early on Saturday morn my fellow explorers and I ventured forth in our blue Vauxhall Astra, and after a long and arduous voyage of over 45 minutes we reached a distant shore. There we were met by an astonishing sight. As far as the eye could see, the sands were thronged by grinning natives, half-naked and feasting upon a peculiar conical dish topped with some exotic icy sweetmeat.”

“And what, pray tell, is the name of this alien realm?”

“I fear, Your Majesty, that it was not easy to comprehend the natives’ tongue. But I gather that they call it… Margate.”

Think about it. To have a good time this summer, we won’t need to leave our country. We’ll be thrilled just to leave our postcode. I’ve spent the past six months cooped up in Gravesend. Forget Spain, Italy and Greece, I’d bite your hand off for a fortnight in Dartford.

So no, our little island is quite big enough to be getting on with, thank you. And anyway, who precisely is the butt of the joke here? Is it us? Or the EU?

Let’s look at that supposed putdown again: “Your island might feel very small when you cannot leave it because your neighbours are not vaccinated!”

But hang on a minute. It won’t be our fault if the EU isn’t vaccinated. It’ll be the EU’s. Effectively, then, this diplomat is saying: “Ha! How foolish you British will feel when you compare the success of your vaccine programme with the shambles of ours! Yes, the joke will certainly be on you in that scenario!”

Hard as I try, I fear I am unable to follow this logic. All I’ll say is: if the EU wants the British to regret Brexit, it’s got a funny way of showing it.

Still, I doubt many Leavers will be bothered. If anyone in this country is going to be upset by that diplomat’s curious attempt at an insult, it’ll be those who were hoping we’d rejoin the EU.

The plan was simple. Wait till the British public see for themselves how awful Brexit is in practice, then tell them they’d be better off back in the EU. Yet before their campaign has even begun, it’s been scuppered by none other than the EU itself.

For prospective Rejoiners, it must be terribly frustrating. Imagine how it must feel.

“Honestly, Brussels! How are we supposed to persuade voters that you’re nothing like the clueless bureaucrats that the Brexiteers said you were, if you keep on acting like the clueless bureaucrats that the Brexiteers said you were? It’s not easy trying to tell people you aren’t inept, spiteful and petty, when you insist on being so inept, spiteful and petty. Why don’t you start being compassionate and competent, like we Remainers told them you were? I just can’t understand it…”

Still, there it is. No Europe for us this summer, it seems. We shall have to take our custom elsewhere. Or rather, take it here.

Personally, I think holidays at home will do just fine. And if our Government follows the example of the Spanish and orders us to wear face masks while sunbathing, so be it.

On a British beach, after all, there’s little chance of getting an embarrassing tan line. If only because there’s so little chance of getting a tan.

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