Row over ‘flag of occupation’

The European Union flag
The European Union flag

TWO of the Ribble Valley’s Euro MPs have gone head to head in a row over whether UK sportsmen and women should wear the European Union flag on their kit.

Paul Nuttall, North West MEP for the UK Independence Party, is indignant at the move.

“It is outrageous that the Culture Committee in the European Parliament now wants to push the UK to fly the EU flag at major sporting events and display the flag on footballers’ jerseys,” he said.

“Athletes are proud to play for England or run for Great Britain; they have no love or allegiance to the EU so why should they be pushed to wear this flag of occupation on their jerseys?

“This is another desperate bid by the EU to promote itself in the face of growing opposition to what it is doing to people’s lives and livelihoods. Hopefully this idea of flying EU flags will sink as quickly at the Euro currency is at the moment. It seems to be like Nero fiddling while Rome burns.”

But fellow North West MEP Chris Davies retorted that Mr Nuttall’s choice of words – describing the EU symbol as a “flag of occupation” – was an insult to the memory of those who fought for freedom in two world wars.

Speaking on Armsitice Day, November 11th, Liberal Democrat Mr Davies claimed that the words amounted to xenophobia and were unacceptable.

“This is grossly insulting to the memory of all those who died in the two world wars of the 20th century,” he said. “Whatever people may think of the European Union as an organisation, no-one can deny that it was created by people determined to ensure such tragic and unnecessary conflicts could never happen again.

“Like every part of government the European Union is imperfect, but it is a voluntary partnership between 27 countries committed to the principles of democracy, freedom and justice. It exists to ensure that conflicts between nations that in the past led to the bloody deaths of millions can instead be resolved by peaceful means.

“In his desire for publicity Paul Nuttall should try and be mature enough never to pander to xenophobia of the most vile kind.”

The plan to include the EU symbol on national sports kit were contained in a report on “The European Dimension in Sport” which was approved by the European Parliament’s Culture and Education Committee.

However, following significant opposition it has been conceded that member states should make the final decision on whether the EU flag should be displayed on clothing.

“There is no way that our Government can go along with this plan, they must put their foot down firmly and kick this idea into touch,” said Mr Nuttall.