Rivalry with France is one of the most popular British pastimes.
It’s not clear why we love it so much. It’s like talking about the weather or morris dancing. (Actually, it’s less about the morris dancing.
Oh sure, we pretend we’re friends – all that hands across the Channel and Entente Cordiale cockamamie.
Truthfully though, we’re never happier than when we’re engaged in a bit of cross-Channel bashing.
Take the current fishing war – which has now worsened – after France seized one of our scallop trawlers. Evidently, it was operating without the correct license.
Please! Donnez-moi unbreak, as the PM would say. We all know it’s because the Frenchies are still blubbing into their Breton tops over Brexit.
So given the history, Conservative MPs simply couldn’t wait to get stuck in yesterday when an urgent question on Le Row summoned Environment Secretary George Eustice to the despatch box.
George Eustice, Britain’s Environment Secretary, arrives in Downing Street to attend a cabinet meeting Wednesday
French gendarmes aboard the Cornelis–Gert Jan scallopboat, which was impounded by the French Gendarmerie Maritime because it was illegally fishing within French waters.
After being seized on Thursday, the British trawler Cornelis Get Jan was seen moored at Le Havre.
Mr Eustice belongs to the old school. His idyllic manner speaks volumes about faded Barbour jackets or dopey Labradors staring out of Land Rovers.
He didn’t indulge in any anti-Gallic Faragist rantings. ‘Disappointing’ was the word he kept using to describe the ding-dong.
The Tory MPs shuffled impatiently into their seats. They wanted bombast.
The question had been tabled by the SNP’s Deidre Brock (Edin- burgh N). The SNP always seize upon these incidents as proof that Brexit isn’t working.
Sure enough, Ms Brock might as well have been a powder-wigged emissaire from the Elysee Palace, so happy was she to parrot France’s version of events.
‘Paris says…’ she repeated. Paris says? Well, that’s all right then.
This mildly sad genuflection, which Tim Loughton (Con E Worthing) detected, was the reason that the captured boat is still in operation.
It was appalling, he said that, how quickly the Scots Nats sided with the French instead of standing up for British interests.
Labour’s fishing spokesman Luke Pollard (Plymouth Sutton) was marginally less drippy, but still struck me as bit of a wet haddock.
I noticed on his CV that he was a specialist in European politics at University. Another Brussels fan boy, to put it another way.
He warned against any language that could endanger lives at sea. What were fishermen to do? How could fishermen play with giant turbots each other?
Mr Pollard also needed assurances that the detained fishermen were safe. Calm down, dear.
They were being held at Le Havre, and not chained to a radiator or gagged in Beirut. Mr Eustice’s diplomatic utterings weren’t sufficient for some Conservative colleagues.
This was pure sabre rattling in Paris. Bob Seely (Con, Isle of Wight), charged President Emmanuel Macron with trying to get support ahead of an election he appears destined for lose.
During the ceremony for the return of 26 works of royal treasures of Abomey, the President of France Emmanuel Macron, at the Quai Braly-Jacques Chirac museum, Paris
Boris Johnson, Prime Minister, was pictured leaving 10 Downing Street Thursday
Michael Fabricant, Con, Lichfield’s charming boulevardier gave a lusty flick of his golden hair.
‘This is nothing new,’ Fab shrugged nonchalantly. He recommended Stephen Clarke’s 1000 years of Annoying the French for those seeking enlightenment.
Lia Nici (Con, Great Grimsby) concurred. ‘We expect nothing less from French politicians,’ she spat.
Ms. Nici is a fiery workaholic. We might have to keep an eye out for her.
Karin Smyth, a sour pip, intervened in an unpleasant way (Lab Bristol S).
‘Isn’t it really time now to get rid of Lord Frost?’ she said, a reference to the Prime Minister’s ripsnorting Brexit negotiator.
Outrage erupted from the Conservative benches.
‘He’s obviously got a lot of friends – probably why he’s there,’ Smyth continued. She wore the face of someone who’d just had a rotten kipper placed under her hooter.
Strains of Elgar’s Nimrod rose as that ripe John Bull Andrew Bridgen (Con, NW Leicestershire) stood up.
Mr Bridgen was ready to fight Monsieur Macron.
He informed the Chamber that ‘history shows this House and our great nation’s interests are best served by standing up to little Napoleons clinging on to power’.
Ah, now that’s the spirit! C’mon, Boris, imagine it. Stiffen the muscles, summon the blood. We could be in Paris by Christmas…