A Conservative MP has branded as “pathetic” a Dutch customs agent confiscating ham sandwiches from a lorry driver who had just arrived from the UK, with the officer telling the driver: “Welcome to Brexit.”
Footage aired on Dutch TV showed customs officers talking to a lorry driver who had just arrived by ferry from the UK at the Hook of Holland. While handling a stack of sandwiches wrapped in tin foil, the agent told the driver that since the UK left the EU, “you are no longer allowed to bring certain foods to Europe, like meat, fruit, vegetables, fish, that kind of stuff”.
The driver asked if he could keep the bread and surrender the meat, to which the border agent said, according to The Guardian: “No, everything will be confiscated. Welcome to Brexit, sir, I’m sorry.”
Guidance from the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) instructs commercial drivers that “you will not be able to bring POAO (products of an animal origin) such as those containing meat or dairy (eg a ham and cheese sandwich) into the EU”. The ban came into force when the UK left the EU’s institutions on January 1st, 2021, and is applicable for all those travelling from the UK, including EU-origin drivers.
Surprised, the driver laughed. However, leading figures in the Conservative Party’s eurosceptic movement have criticised treating a key worker’s lunch as if it were a product being imported into the EU.
Andrew Bridgen told the MailOnline that “the whole story smacks of one sandwich short of a picnic, literally,” and criticised Dutch authorities’ overreaction, given that the UK has “the highest food standards in Europe”.
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While Mark Francois, the chairman of the European Research Group (ERG), said: “This is pettifogging bureaucracy gone mad.
“The EU have always worried that a dynamic, free-trading UK, outside the EU, would eventually eat their lunch on world markets, so now they are retaliating by trying to steal our truckers’ lunches instead! It’s pathetic really.”
Dutch authorities also revealed that had seized other foodstuffs including Spanish marmalade oranges, Dorset Cereals muesli, and Tropicana orange juice.
But the Mail Online reports that while Dutch officials are being overzealous over the odd ham sandwich or orange, the country remains one of the major trug trafficking hubs in the whole of Europe.
Last year, one drugs bust uncovered £136 million worth of cocaine from Ecuador, which was found in a shipment of bananas in Rotterdam.
In December 2019, Jan Struijs, the chairman of the Netherlands’ biggest police union, told the BBC that “We definitely have the characteristics of a narco-state.”
“Sure we’re not Mexico. We don’t have 14,400 murders. But if you look at the infrastructure, the big money earned by organised crime, the parallel economy. Yes, we have a narco-state,” Mr Struijs said.
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