The Brussels Diary: We're All Citizens of Europe Edition

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UKIP politicos at their publicity stunt in Brussels this week
Alexandra Swann
On 30 June 2012 08:22

In the European Parliament it is very rare for anyone aside UKIP staff to actually work on Fridays, let alone Friday afternoons. We eschew this Working Time Directive because we appreciate that we are working via the taxpayer, to oppose further affronts to the taxpayer.

The week has been quite spectacular. For the beginning of the week part of our UK Press Office was visiting which is always a pleasure and, because it is a group week, we had the usual group meetings, staff meetings etc. 

On Tuesday Roger Helmer and I attended the EFD hearing on Climate Change before attending a debate on "Dirty Gas - anti-fracking for the EU low carbon energy needs" (why do we need low carbon anyway?).

On Wednesday I had an 8am breakfast briefing on "Ecocide", discussed at length below, followed by lunch with Fred Smith, CEO of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, then an evening meeting of JAMA, the Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association which served some rather fantastic sushi.

On Thursday Roger was debating tax avoidance on BBC's "The Record Europe", then I had the pleasure of dinner with my favourite two advisors to the EFD, one of whom is a spectacular chef.

Friday was the gloriously humiliating yet wonderfully amusing UKIP publicity stunt at the Commission and the news that our campaign against the RSPCA's politically motivated legal action vs the Heythrop Hunt has made this summer's Hounds Magazine!

There is, of course, the EU Summit going on here. Cue terrible traffic, streets lined with chauffeur driven cars and the German taxpayer being forced, yet again, to substantiate the Eurozone's failing currency. In a few days it is almost certain that Greek-Cypriot Communists will assume Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

At first I was a little horrified by this - Greek Communists, exactly what we need in an economic crisis - but actually, can they do any worse than their predecessors?


The things you do for the causes you believe in. I sauntered into work around 8.30am to write this column and finish a few pieces for Roger but even before sourcing caffeine I was summoned to Nigel Farage’s office. The reason was not given.

Assuming it would be to review papers or discuss strategy with the group, I made the fatal mistake of attending. I had forgotten the email from our Brussels based Press Officer a few weeks ago confirming permission for a publicity stunt outside the EU Commission this morning.

What ensued was not only ritual humiliation but a hell of a lot of fun.

We split into two football teams. On my team was the EU institutions and the Germans. I was personally branded "EU Commission" (I fear this will come back to haunt me) and on the other side was Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland - the indebted nations. 

Our goal (the one our "German taxpayer" goalie was defending) was tiny and the other team's was full-sized - to emphasize the shifting goalposts and ludicrously unfair terms of agreement between the domination of the Commission (and Germany, if Merkel's defeat is to be taken at face value) over the indebted nations.

This was the first time I have ever touched a football and the results were muddy yet exhilarating. As expected, the Commission broke the rules and our referee (the ECJ) intervened.

At one point I pushed over "Greece" and she was sent off - metaphors, of course.  The European Institutions cheated and committed numerous dirty tackles, the indebted nations were sent off when they retaliated.

Needless to say, the European Institutions won 13-0. We had a huge amount of press who seemed rather glad of light relief after the last days of summits and who were keen to listen to the point Nigel was making and that we were attempting to illustrate.

I am sure we will receive criticism for publicity stunts, UKIP always does. But we do them nonetheless because they illustrate a point that few might otherwise listen to, because in this place of smug self-satisfaction we disrupt their Europhilic hegemony, we lighten the mood and we pull a few legs. 

We do what we can to provide a genuine opposition. We blocked ACTA, for instance. But now and then a decent publicity stunt works a little magic and brings the whole team together.

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