Our global neighbours now think Britain is a basket case, but perhaps Scots will be able to hold their heads high in Europe again, writes Scott Begbie.
They do say travel broadens the mind… but, on my most recent sojourn abroad, I spent a lot of time persuading people I wasn’t a narrow-minded fool.
As in, having to explain to some lovely people in Belgium that, no, I didn’t vote for Brexit and, yes, it was a bewildering act of madness.
The sheer folly of what the gullible were persuaded to do by swivel-eyed loons became evident as soon as I touched down in Schiphol Airport for a weekend with chums.
Large groups of Aberdeen folk – and those from other British flights – had to stand around in lengthy queues, like an ever-growing herd of cattle, because the arrivals hall was too crowded, while those with EU passports sailed past without a care in the world.
At one point, there were scores of us corralled in front of the doors to customs and baggage reclaim while a rather friendly security guard kept calling out for European citizens to step forward and go through.
You see, EU passports just need to be self-scanned at an electronic gate. UK ones need to be put in front of a human so they can look at it, look at you, then physically stamp it. You have to queue for that to happen.
Why don’t they put more staff on? Why should they? They didn’t vote for Brexit. Why should they pick up extra cost? We’re the ones paying the price.
UK passports don’t open all the doors they used to
A couple of times, some brass-necked types stepped up to the call of “European passport holders come forward, please” with their British paperwork, only to be told: “No, I’m sorry, but the UK voted to leave the EU. Those are no longer EU passports.”
The bloke wasn’t speaking with malice or trying to be funny. He was simply pointing out a fact.
Our nice receptionist actually said that the Continent used to look up to Britain as a bastion of common sense, stability and democracy
Anyway, once we got clear of all of that and were let loose in Belgium, we headed for the hotel, where the lovely receptionist clocked our passports and sympathised with us. Once we established that we didn’t want this nonsense, we had a good chat.
What became clear is that Europe now looks at the UK and shakes its head in sadness and surprise.
Our nice receptionist actually said that the Continent used to look up to Britain as a bastion of common sense, stability and democracy. This was a common theme during a few conversations with ordinary Belgians.
Wider Europe thinks Britain is a basket case
Our friends and neighbours now think Britain is a basket case. Not just because of Brexit, but all that has flowed from it since, up to and including a government that deliberately kicked its own economy over a cliff edge.
And, yet, still we have a party in power in Westminster that denies Brexit has been a disaster, one that will hobble us for generations to come, unless and until sense prevails and we rejoin the EU.
There is, of course, no chance of that happening with a Westminster government; not when both the Tories and Labour say Brexit is a done deal and there’s no going back.
Still, there is at least one bright light of hope for five million of us on this increasingly isolated island.
One day, when I’m standing in a queue at Schiphol and they ask for European citizens to come forward, me and my Scottish passport will be first in line.
Scott Begbie is entertainment editor for The Press & Journal and Evening Express