Sunday, Jun 16, 2024 | Last Update : 05:37 AM IST

  Opinion   Oped  29 Oct 2019  Will champagne, turkeys run out on Xmas, New Year? Brexit panic grows

Will champagne, turkeys run out on Xmas, New Year? Brexit panic grows

Kishwar Desai, is the chair of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust, which is setting up the Partition Museum at Town Hall, Amritsar.
Published : Oct 29, 2019, 1:32 am IST
Updated : Oct 29, 2019, 1:40 am IST

Not that an election on December 12, as is being requested by Mr Johnson, will be an easy thing.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Photo: AP)
 Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Photo: AP)

It has been a terrible few days in which the news just continues to get worse. Most people are fed up with parliamentarians as they “Brexit” on and on and can’t seem to conclude the discussion. To make matters worse, Prime Minister Boris Johnson would now like an early election, possibly by mid-December, since the Conservatives continue to have an edge over Labour. But surveys also show that there is little appetite for a general election because what if the whole lot of them come back and Brexit us some more? So could a second referendum be the best bet, perhaps with a different outcome, so that Brexit is packed away for good?

Interestingly, while most EU countries are ready to concede an extension of the Brexit deadline, France is not — it is waiting to see if an election may actually be called. That, they feel will change many things.

Not that an election on December 12, as is being requested by Mr Johnson, will be an easy thing. The cold and snow will make polling fairly grim. But the bigger worry for Brits is whether Brexit will ruin Christmas by interrupting the food imports — especially turkeys — from Europe. So menus will need to be changed and Brussel sprouts replaced with British potatoes, perhaps. And then, what about all that wine everyone consumes? I can imagine that households are frantically stockpiling the champagne and foie gras.

Meanwhile, the recent tragedy where 39 illegal migrants were discovered dead inside a truck in Essex only goes to prove that people smugglers are ruthless. They take an enormous amount of money from their victims, who are usually extremely keen on coming to the UK. Some recent reports have pointed out that young people from Vietnam are often lured in to work at nail bars or trapped to help grow cannabis plants in illegal farms. The latter are dominated by the drug mafia — and so the young and vulnerable are simply forced to work under very grim conditions. Those who have escaped from these harrowing circumstances have said that the conditions while travelling to the UK and at their places of work are often far worse than anything they have known.

In the recent incident, most of these illegal immigrants were from Vietnam, from a desperately poor region — and at least one family had paid £30,000 to get their daughter, who is now dead, to the UK. While the police have made some arrests, it is obvious that this smuggling of human beings will not end so easily: the key operators belong to international rings which are difficult to eradicate.

We have had many such cases of people being smuggled to the UK and the US from India, and despite all the deaths and trauma, it still carries on.

Finally, it was a victory for the Indian high commission in London that they managed to get the so-called anti-India march scheduled on Diwali day to gather at the high commission deflected to other areas in London. As the last time round, it is apparent that these marches have the fingerprints of the Pakistani government all over them. Yet ostensibly, the protests are by those claiming to represent or support Indian Kashmiris. Perhaps it’s about time that the Indian government expanded their own PR machinery abroad. This requires a steady outreach programme engaging the NRI, and by this I mean not the NRI of yore, who went abroad with the proverbial “`5 in his pocket” and is today a millionaire. But the NRI who is an intellectual and a professional — and is concerned about creating a positive image of their country of origin. It will be great to develop platforms where people can come together formally or informally as a community to discuss core issues and understand them better. They may not come out onto the streets but at least they will be able to spread the word through their networks.

And how can we have a diary without the royals being mentioned? The good news is that everyone is now doing their bit for climate change. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex recently drove the half-mile distance between their home and Windsor castle in an Audi which runs on electricity and costs more than £70,000 to attend a meeting on gender equality. It all sounds very good, politically correct and low emissions, for sure — but half a mile? Couldn’t they simply have walked? Even lower emissions that way!

So while the vibrations between the Cambridges and the Sussexes may not be very friendly at present (as Prince Harry accepted in a recent interview), they are individually trying to do the right thing. Though I have to say, I also do believe that the “fab four” are being unfairly tracked all the time by a pretty obsessive media. Can anything be done to change the situation?

That’s a fairly rhetorical question — and hope you had a fabulous Diwali!

Tags: diwali, nri