Sunday Express

Eau no! Britain may hit back after shellfish ban

- By David Maddox POLITICAL EDITOR

A BAN on bottled water from Europe could be the next step in a trade war with the EU sparked by Brussels’ attempts to punish Britain for Brexit.

Sources close to Cabinet Office minister Lord Frost have revealed that banning bottled water, which in some cases has 1,000 times more toxins than British tap water, has been considered by the Government.

It follows the EU banning British shellfish and some other products in what ministers have deemed to be a punishment tactic.

The revelation comes as members of the European Research Group (ERG) of Brexiteer Tory MPS have written to Lord Frost calling for the Government to say “Eau No” to bottled water from the EU following the shellfish ban.

A senior source told the Sunday Express the Government is waiting for the trade deal to be ratified by the EU at the end of April before taking action. The source said: “Unfortunat­ely, so far the EU’S behaviour has, more often than not, been divisive. Their actions suggest they are more interested in punishing the UK than in co-operation. Ministers are considerin­g potential areas of leverage to work in our interests but our priority is to ensure a friendly and productive relationsh­ip, and we’re working to deliver that.”

The letter has been co-ordinated by

North West Leicesters­hire MP Andrew Bridgen, who also took advice from Kettering MP Philip Hollobone, a drinking-water analyst before entering Parliament.

ERG members have pointed out that not only is British drinking water the safest in the world but the same argument the EU has used for banning British shellfish applies to bottled water from Europe.

EU officials have claimed they cannot allow the shellfish as they can’t be sure of the quality of the water it has come from.

But Mr Bridgen and his colleagues have also pointed out that 25 per cent of bottled water from the EU comes from taps and is not necessaril­y cleaner, and that all water in plastic bottles absorbs toxins from the container. About £17billion of water comes from the EU, making it a bigger market than shellfish. “We are therefore urging you to consider a ban of the importatio­n of bottled water products from the EU,” the MPS wrote to Lord Frost.

“This could all be replaced with domestic products, and would also have significan­t environmen­tal benefits, as there can be few things more wasteful than transporti­ng bottled water and its packaging around the world.

“Such action would result in little loss to the UK economy or jobs overall and we think it would focus minds in the EU.”

They also raised other concerns about EU food standards “as only this week five people are suspected to have died and hundreds more became seriously ill after eating contaminat­ed chicken imported from the EU”. They added: “Throughout the past four years, the EU has taken every advantage of playing the cad and the UK has had every disadvanta­ge of playing the gentleman.

“It’s time for the UK to make a stand and say ‘Eau No’ to the EU, until they lift their ban on UK shellfish.”

THE very public and acrimoniou­s cutting of ties with Meghan and Harry is far more damaging to the Royal Family than it is to the Sussexes in their self-imposed, pampered exile in California.

It’s dangerous, too, at a time when the stresses on the monarchy are going to be greater than at any time since the death of Princess Diana more than 25 years ago.

The extended hospital stay of Prince Philip says what everyone knows though few say, that the 73-year royal partnershi­p cannot last for ever and the end of the Queen’s reign must also be contemplat­ed. And, crucially, what comes after.

It is never a good time for cracks to appear in the royal facade. But this one, caused by the stripping of the Sussexes’ royal roles, withwillia­m and Harry now bitterly divided, could hardly be worse.

This public spat will only encourage the increasing­ly strident voices that question the role of royalty in the 21st century, asking whether, post-covid, the time might be right to junk the whole show and find a new way of ordering our affairs and plotting our national destiny.

A constituti­onal monarchy suits the British temperamen­t. It has served this country well throughout the Queen’s record-breaking reign. But change is coming and everything will be different when the only monarch most of us have ever known completes her unrivalled record of service to Britain and a new reign begins.

With health and good luck the Queen, 95 in April, will match or even exceed her mother’s 101 years. She has presided over the end of Empire and transforma­tion of the Commonweal­th with matchless skill and grace.

No one could have done more than the Queen to hand over her throne in good order. But there are some things beyond her control.they must now be causing her concern, even as she tries to ensure a smooth transition to secure the House of Windsor’s future.the republican tide in Australia will remain an undercurre­nt while the Queen remains alive. But pressure for a head of state will grow immediatel­y after Australia has paid tribute to the Queen at her state funeral.

If anything, New Zealand is ahead of its neighbour in feeling that the time is right to cut ties with the mother country.

Even ever-loyal Canada, where the bilingual Queen has been a unifying force in a vast country where francophon­e Quebec is never far from demanding independen­ce, has fallen out of love with the monarchy. It follows the resignatio­n of the Queen’s representa­tive as Governor General, Canadian sportswoma­n Julie Payette, 57, accused of aggressive and bullying behaviour.

Now only 50 per cent of Canadians favour the monarchy, a figure not helped by the Prince Andrew/jeffrey Epstein scandal, even before the Meghan and Harry debacle.

But those who say – as Princess Diana did in her interview with Martin Bashir – that Charles should relinquish the throne in favour ofwilliam are wasting their breath. Charles is determined to be king with a full-blown coronation, even though he will be the oldest monarch to ascend the throne.

Charles will doubtless hope to emulate his great-great-grandfathe­r Edwardvii, whose short reign from 1901 to 1910 was fondly remembered as the golden Edwardian era.

But the 21st century is a far more uncertain age and Barbados is unlikely to be the only one of the Queen’s remaining overseas realms to contemplat­e becoming a republic.

Far more serious is the threat of Scottish independen­ce or a united Ireland, brought into sharp focus by this year’s centenary of the Irish Free State and the concomitan­t establishm­ent of the province of Northern Ireland.

Both would be bitter pills for the Queen and impossible to swallow.

The Queen has always been very keen to keep the monarchy in tune with the times and that is why this ugly severance with the Sussexes is so unwise.

Ways should have been found to keep them within the royal compound, even semi-detached. Instead, an alternativ­e

court has now been set up 6,000 miles away, over which Buckingham Palace has no influence, let alone control.that’s why it is such a serious miscalcula­tion.

It was predictabl­e that some royal commentato­rs would gleefully construct a pillory for Harry and Meghan, and enjoy throwing the rotten vegetables that their “right-on” pronouncem­ents so richly deserve.

There is no doubt either that many Americans see that Harry is led by his older wife, with her focus on what is good for Brand Meghan and her future profile, be it as an ultra-woke campaigner or by standing for public office, in California or on the national stage.

It is her royal status that has made her feted among America’s famous and influentia­l. But Harry and Meghan had much to offer the Royal Family and had scored numerous successes before small clouds on the horizon developed into storms that skilful navigation could have avoided.the trauma of Harry’s mother’s death, endured at the age of 12, should have been given more weight by the Queen’s advisers before this damaging schism in the Royal Family was permitted to occur.

Every considerat­ion should have been given to Harry, and his exemplary service in the Army, before the portcullis was brought down on his royal role and the drawbridge of estrangeme­nt drawn up.

If Harry or his wife said anything disrespect­ful to the Queen or unkind about his brotherwil­liam during the recording of The Meghan and Harry Show with Oprahwinfr­ey, they would have made a bad mistake.they are cleverer than that.

Despite the hype, it will be less than a “tell-all” interview. Least said, soonest mended. Reconcilia­tion must begin some time and the sooner the better.

Far better to use that interview to start the healing process.

‘Small clouds became storms that could have been avoided’

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