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CHRISTMAS

Santa analysis: Claus and Europe feel Brexit pinch, as will UK’s Christmas

Will Santa still come to the UK if he faces tariffs and can’t move freely? And what about some of the goodies from the EU that Brits crave so much at Christmas?

Santa analysis: Claus and Europe feel Brexit pinch, as will UK's Christmas
Deposit Photos.

The Christmas spirit and festive relief will be much appreciated by those weighed under by the Brexit saga. But will Brexit in fact turn out to be the future grinch of British Christmases?

Santa could face logistics and supply chain issues in the UK if the country does eventually leave the EU with no deal. Santa and his reindeer could face long queues at Calais or find they don't have the right to enter British airspace.

Santa would then either have to set up a UK subsidiary or avoid delivering too many fresh cakes, treats or presents that could spoil.

EU gifts could suddenly face heavy tariffs, potentially preventing the red-cloaked, large and bearded Nordic man from delivering millions of presents across the British Isles.

The British government has also promised that Brexit will mean a tougher approach on immigration, although it’s unclear whether the UK would adopt the ‘Norway model’ and ban Swedish reindeer from entering the country. Santa might then not be coming to town.

Reindeer in Norway. File photo: AFP Photo/NORWEGIAN PUBLIC ROADS ADMINISTRATION/Kari Karstensen.

Turkey, champagne, port wine and sweet Italian cake are all linked to the spirit of Xmas – and to the EU.

Some British festive habits even crossed the Channel from Europe. In 1841, Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, allegedly brought a Christmas tree from Germany to the UK, importing a tradition that has found its way into every British living room ever since. Martin Luther is apparently credited with having invented the Christmas tree.

It might have originally been an import from Europe, but higher costs for Polish and Danish trees to reach British shores meant UK-based growers were hailing Brexit as a victory for domestic-grown trees in 2017, according to a report in Horticulture Week.

British Christmas turkeys rely distinctly on EU labour. Some 90 percent of seasonal workers, who help breed and slaughter turkeys in the UK, are from Eastern Europe – mainly Poland, Romania and Hungary, according to a report in the Financial Times. 

READ ALSO: A big, fat Italian Christmas: how Italy does it bigger and better

“We wouldn’t be in business without migrant workers and we won’t be in business in the future without them,” MD of a turkey company Paul Kelly, also chairman of the British Turkey Federation, told British daily Metro. 

Polish workers are increasingly turning their back on the UK and instead seeking similar work in the Netherlands or Germany, states that report. 

Brits love a Christmas toast with champagne too, a fact confirmed by the United Kingdom’s position as the former leading consumer of the French sparkling wine in the world. 

Yet the head of the Union of Champagne Houses (UCH), which includes brands such as Moet & Chandon, said already at Christmas last year that the USA had dethroned the UK as the largest bubbly consuming nation. Brits are increasingly opting for cheaper alternatives.  And it isn’t just champagne that Brexit has in its sights. The price of a bottle of port wine, a Christmas favourite with mince pies, will rise to offset the extra costs Brexit entails.

READ ALSO: #SwedishChristmas: The festive Swedish songs just for adults

“We will have to gradually raise our prices in the coming years to cover losses,” Adrian Bridge, president of Fladgate Partnership – which owns leading port brands such as Taylor’s and Fonseca, told Forbes’ Portuguese-language outlet Forbes.pt, while discussing Brexit. Sales to the UK represent 30 percent of the company’s annual turnover, claims the Forbes report.

A slice of panettone cake is also popular in Britain. The United Kingdom is the third largest consumer of all Italian Christmas cake exports. Nearly 10 per cent of all panettone and pandoro cake exports from Italy go to the UK, according to Confartigianato, an Italian growers union which has warned that a no-deal Brexit could add substantial costs for its members who export heavily to the UK. 

Italian companies generated more than €43,2 million in sales in the UK during the festive period in 2016, accounting for 11.1 percent of all total exports in the sector, reported Confartigianato, a lobby group of Italian manufacturing firms.

Bonus viewing: BBC Newsnight's border-to-border (Muff to Dover) road trip across the UK while discussing Brexit tries to feel the pulse of the British public on Theresa May's Brexit deal before Christmas 2018.   

READ ALSO: The food and drink you need for an Italian Christmas feast

READ ALSO: The story behind France's 'little saints' of Christmas

READ ALSO: 12 weird and wonderful Christmas traditions celebrated across Spain

READ ALSO: Your essential guide for doing Christmas just like a German

 

 

POLITICS

British PM Boris Johnson’s dad becomes French

The Brexit-supporting father of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has acquired French citizenship, a French justice ministry source told AFP.

British PM Boris Johnson's dad becomes French

A Conservative who once worked for the European Commission in Brussels, Stanley Johnson opposed Brexit at first but swung behind the EU departure project following 2016’s narrow referendum vote that was championed by his son.

The elder Johnson’s ties to France are through his French mother, and he speaks the language.

The 81-year-old filed his citizenship application at the French consulate in London in November last year, with a six-month deadline for the justice ministry to object elapsing on Wednesday.

“Based on the facts in his application, and without a refusal by the justice minister, Mr Stanley Johnson acquired French nationality on May 18 2022,” the ministry told AFP.

READ ALSO Am I eligible for French citizenship?

“This decision concerns only Mr Stanley Johnson and does not extend to his descendants,” it added.

The most common ways of acquiring French nationality are through residency in the country or marriage to a French citizen.

However it is possible to become French through family connections, although France accepts only a French parent – not a grandparent like Ireland or a great-grandparent like Italy – in these types of application.

READ ALSO How to obtain French citizenship through ancestry

French law normally prevents children of its citizens from claiming nationality if their family has been abroad for more than 50 years without making use of their rights.

But their applications can still be considered if they can prove “concrete ties of a cultural, professional, economic or family nature” with France — a clause Stanley invoked in his application.

“I’ll always be European, that’s for sure,” Stanley Johnson told RTL radio in French in a December 2020 interview.

He had come under fire at home for his plans, announced at the same time most Britons were losing the right to travel freely across the European Union as a post-Brexit “transition period” ended.

“It’s not a question of becoming French. If I understand correctly I am French! My mother was born in France, her mother was completely French as was her grandfather,” Stanley said.

“For me it’s a question of obtaining what I already have and I am very happy about that,” he added.

Around 3,100 British people acquired French nationality in 2020, according to the latest figures available from EU statistics agency Eurostat, making France the second most popular choice for acquiring European citizenship, after Germany.

Stanley Johnson has become a public figure in Britain following his son’s political rise, appearing on a celebrity reality TV show in 2017 and appearing regularly in the media.

His ex-wife Charlotte Fawcett — Boris’s mother — told a biographer recently that Stanley had beaten her many times, breaking her nose on one occasion.

Last year two women, a Conservative MP and a journalist, accused him of groping or touching them inappropriately.

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