How to have a Brexit-free Christmas

PUBLISHED: 20:00 18 December 2018

Are these Brussels sprouts or just sprouts. Picture: David Lamming

Are these Brussels sprouts or just sprouts. Picture: David Lamming

(c) copyright

With just over three months ago until the UK is due to leave the European Union, how will we cope with Brexit over Christmas?

Don't let Christmas flag. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA WireDon't let Christmas flag. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Hands up if there’s ever been a big row in your house at Christmas?

That’s most of you, then.

Normally, this will be a trivial issue such as a dispute over the rules of Newmarket (the card game you save your pennies for) or trying to deal with the relative who has undergone a goodwill bypass.

But Brexit has thrown some family relationships into a whole new dimension. Assemble a Christmas table with avid leavers and staunch remainers and there is a risk of a cosmic meltdown.

Safe topic: Morecambe and Wise. Picture: Archant archiveSafe topic: Morecambe and Wise. Picture: Archant archive

The only possible way to survive is to pursue a policy of Christmas peace and joy... as long as the whole family observes the ground rules, which are as follows:

• There will be no oblique references to post-Brexit Britain (eg “Well, we won’t be getting Brussels sprouts next year because there’ll be no one to pick them.” and: “I think we’ll simply be calling them sprouts after the end of March, next year.”)

• Decide in advance what the banned words/phrases are and circulate them to all Christmas guests in advance. These will include: Farage, Boris, Mrs May, Rees-Mogg, Holidays abroad, immigration, passports, backstop, Ireland, referendum, people’s vote, Brexit (soft, hard or smooth), Brexiteer, Brexit means Brexit, leave, remain, Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker, the pound, the euro, Scotland, Dover, David Cameron, Brussels, France, Germany, visas, Gibraltar, will of the people, Article 50, fishing rights, Turkey (the country), customs union, border (hard, soft), Michel Barnier, freedom of movement, Jeux sans Frontieres, Norway model, transition. (thanks to the Commons Library for its Brexit Glossary). It’s not going to be easy to avoid Brussels and turkey (the dinner) so it may be an idea to avoid these traditional foodstuffs. Why not have your first vegan Christmas...

• Play games that are unBrexitable such as Twister. There is very little political content in a game that requires physical contortions. Word games such as Taboo are great fun but add “Brexit” to every card under the list of words you cannot use.

It's all right to play Scrabble... as long as you don't use B***** or other banned words. Picture: Lucy TaylorIt's all right to play Scrabble... as long as you don't use B***** or other banned words. Picture: Lucy Taylor

This week marks the 80th anniversary of that perennial favourite, Scrabble. Gyles Brandreth, Honorary President of the Association of British Scrabble Players and founder of the National Scrabble Championships, was on BBC Radio 4 at the weekend and he said Brexit was not an acceptable word... in Scrabble, that is. If that is observed, then Scrabble should be okay to play. (Monopoly should not be played under any circumstances − nothing to do with Brexit.)

• Do not, repeat not, give Brexit presents unless everyone in the family is of the same persuasion. One online site (Etsy) has a wide range of pro and anti-Brexit gifts. There is a mug that says “Keep calm and blame Brexit” and another that says: “WARNING I may start talking about politics at any time”. I’m not sure about the one that declares: “I’ve got the hots for Theresa May.” There are jumpers bearing the message: “All I want for Christmas is EU” and a T-shirt with the alternative: “Independence Day 29/3/2019 Brexit”. As for the Nigel Farage voodoo doll, I don’t think so.

• No taunting. No one wants a Christmas table divided into warring factions. Those who voted leave must refrain from talking about “sour grapes” and those who voted stay should steer clear mentioning the £350 million a week more for the NHS. Try to jolly people along with some of those fantastic cracker jokes: Q: When do sheep practice their new dance? A: While shepherds watch them floss by night. Ho ho ho!

• Meanwhile, steer guests to acceptable topics of conversation such as: Morecambe and Wise, the weather; the Nativity; who you would like to see on Strictly Come Dancing, next year (bearing in mind banned words above); classic Christmas films; favourite Christmas Carols; the magical properties of WD40; the birds in the garden; should sherry trifles have jelly or not (controversial), the lovely presents you received (excepting those listed above), how John Malkovich looks nothing like Agatha Christie’s Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot and how Christmas just comes around so quickly.

Why not play Twister - no Brexit connotations. Picture: Getty ImagesWhy not play Twister - no Brexit connotations. Picture: Getty Images

Follow these guidelines and you may achieve a peaceful Christmas although you will need to be vigilant as the B word does have a way of creeping in under the radar. If things start to become fraught, do not try to solve it by plying guests with alcohol. This does not apply to the host(s) who will need a drink.

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