Theresa May holds up Belgium football shirt in PR gaffe

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Theresa May holds up Belgium football shirt in PR gaffe

Theresa May Theresa May holds up Belgium football shirt in PR gaffe

Prime minister has team’s top handed to her by Belgian counterpart

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May receives footballer Eden Hazard's shirt from Belgian PM â€" video

They say sports and politics make uneasy bedfellows, and Theresa May will no doubt now agree. At the start of a summit of EU leaders in Brussels, the British prime minister was ambushed by her Belgian counterpart, Charles Michel, who presented her with a Belgium football team top ahead of the England v Belgium World Cup game.

May held up the Red Devils’ strip, before realising that doing so might be considered a PR gaffe. She attempted to swiftly stash it away only for fe llow leaders gathered around her to point to the TV monitors showing her reaction live to a packed hall of reporters outside the leaders’ meeting room. . The French president, Emmanuel Macron, appeared particularly amused by the jape.

Napping May scores own goal in face of Belgium Brexit striker Read more

The shirt â€" unfurled by Michel from a gift box â€" had 10 on the back, perhaps a nod to May’s Downing Street home, or Belgium’s finest player, Eden Hazard. To her credit, the prime minister appeared to take the incident in good spirit, although she is known to be more of a cricket fan, with a fondness for the slow but steady batting of Geoffrey Boycott.

Michel went on to pass around Belgian football scarves to some of the other EU leaders. The Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, who admitted he would be cheering on Belgium in their tie with England, happily posed with one, as did Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister. The European commission president , Jean-Claude Juncker, beamed as he was handed a scarf, with the match seemingly taking on some symbolic value at a crunch time in the Brexit negotiations.

The prime minister later gave Michel a replica England shirt at a dinner where she addressed the other 27 leaders on her plans for the relationship after Brexit. On handing him the top, May told the Belgian premier: “The equalizer.” She also brought souvenir T-shirts for his two children, with the flags of the two footballing nations on the front, and the date of the tie. A UK government source said: “The Belgian prime minister obviously decided that he needed to get in ahead of the first whistle.”

As for support for the England team, there wasn’t much on show at the summit. However, Varadkar later pointed out that a loss for England could, due to the vagaries of the group stage, lead to an easier path for Gareth Southgate’s team to an unlikely second World Cup victory, by avoiding an early match with Br azil. “It could be a win-win situation,” Varadkar told reporters of his decision to back the Belgians.

The former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who was also at the summit, tweeted of Varadkar’s comments: “This tells us all we need to know. He really is the yes-man of Europe.”

Q&A

What is a customs union and why does it matter?

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A customs union is an agreement by a group of countries, such as the EU, to all apply the same tariffs on imported goods from the rest of the world and, typically, eliminate them entirely for trade within the group. By doing this, they can help avoid the need for costly and time-consuming customs checks during trade between members of the union. Asian shipping containers arriving at Felixstowe or Rotterdam, for example, need only pass through customs once before their contents head to markets all over Europe. Lorries passing between Dover and Calais avoid delay entirely.

Customs are not the only checks that count â€" imports are also scrutinised for conformity with trading standards regulations and security and immigration purposes â€" but they do play an important role in determining how much friction there is at the border. A strict customs regime at Dover or between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would lead to delays that will be costly for business and disruptive for travellers. Just-in-time supply chains in industries such as car making could suffer. An Irish peace process built around the principle of entirely unfettered travel between north and south could be jeopardised.

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Ireland, with the support of 26 member states, is piling on the pressure for the UK to come up with a solution that will avoid a hard border in Ireland after Brexit.

The UK ambassador to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow, has been given the job of updating the prime minister on the progress of the match with Belgium, a host nation for EU institutions, as the match clashed with the leaders’ meal.

Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt)

Today, Nigel Farage said Belgium is not a real country. He’ll see how real Belgium is when we play England in the World Cup! But perhaps he’s still exploring German citizenship and will be rooting for “die Mannschaft” 😉 🇧🇪 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 🇩🇪

May 3, 2018

Farage, watching the match buildup from one of the heaving bars in the Brussels EU quarter, later described the tie with Belgium as a “grudge match”. Earlier this summer, in response to the MEP’s claim that Belgium wasn’t a real country, the European parliament Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, had goaded Farage on Twitter: “He’ll see how real Belgium is when we play England in the World Cup!”

Farage told the Guardian: “Losing could be better for England but pride and machismo got the better of me.â € He added that a victorious Verhofstadt is always “unbearable”.

Topics
  • Theresa May
  • Belgium
  • European Union
  • Europe
  • World Cup
  • World Cup 2018
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Source: Google News Belgium | Netizen 24 Belgium

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