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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

 

 

BRITS IN EUROPE

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

After years of campaigns and promises British citizens living abroad finally won the lifelong right to vote in UK general elections in April 2022. But campaigners say more needs to be done to allow all those Britons abroad to be able cast their votes easily.

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

What’s in the law?

The Elections Act 2022 introduced several changes to the current legislation on electoral participation. Among these, it removed the rule by which British citizens lose their voting rights in the UK if they have lived abroad for more than 15 years

The new rules also abolished the requirement to have been previously registered in the UK electoral roll to become an overseas voter. In addition, the registration in the electoral roll will now last up to three years instead of only one year.

It is estimated that these changes could increase the number of overseas voter registrations by some 3 million. But the way new measures will be applied in practice is still to be defined.

READ ALSO: ‘Mixed feelings’ – British citizens in Europe finally get right to vote for life

Defining the practicalities

Under the new law, Britons living abroad will have to register to vote in the last place they were registered in the UK. This means that people who have never lived in the UK will be ineligible to vote, regardless of how long they have been overseas, while those who left when they were children will be able to use a parent or guardian’s address.

But given that the UK does not require residents to register with local councils, how to prove previous UK residence? “Typical documents accepted as a proof of residence are Council tax or utilities bills, but not everyone will have them or will have kept them in an international move,” says Fiona Godfrey, co-founder of the British in Europe coalition.

Ballot papers are pictured in stacks in a count centre as part of the 2019 UK general election. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP)

Other questions concern how people will effectively cast their ballot. UK citizens overseas will be able to vote by post or by proxy or in person at their polling station if they are in the UK at the time of the election. However, few people are likely to travel to the UK for an election and in the past there have problems and delays with postal voting.

The Electoral Commission has recommended that overseas electors appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf. But who could that be for people who have been away from their constituency for a long time?

New secondary legislation will have to answer these questions, defining how to be included in the electoral roll and how to exercise the voting right in practice.

According to British in Europe, the government should present draft legislation in the first half of the year so that the parliament can adopt it before summer and registrations of overseas voters can start in the autumn.

British in Europe survey

British in Europe are currently running a survey to understand the difficulties UK citizens abroad may face in the registration and voting process, as well as their intention to participate in elections.

The survey asks for instance which documents people can access to prove their previous residence in the UK, what problems they had voting in the past, and if and how they plan to vote in the future.

“We need to get an up-to-date picture of British citizens living around the world and have information to make recommendations to the government, as it prepares secondary legislation,” Godfrey said. “If millions of people will exercise their voting rights, there will be consequences for council registration offices, post office and authorities that will manage the process, among other things” she argued.

The right to vote concerns only UK parliamentary elections and national referendums, not elections in the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, or at local level.

The survey is open to UK citizens living anywhere in the world and is available at this link.

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