European cities are flying the union flag to campaign against Brexit

A pro-European sandcastle in Southport. Image: Getty.

The wait is over – Britain’s EU referendum is finally here. The nation’s long nightmare is over, or possibly just beginning (delete according to result and taste).

The cities of Europe, though, have been making their own feelings about the vote pretty clear. Madrid's City Hall was illuminated in red, white and blue, to show its support for the Remain campaign:

 

In Warsaw, the Union flag was projected onto the side of the Palace of Culture building, complete with hashtag:

 

In Vienna, a huge Union Jack was projected onto the side of the MuseumsQuartier – which, Wikipedia tells us, is the eighth largest cultural area in the world (citation needed).

 

In Florence, Michelangelo's David was wearing a jaunty new outfit:

 

The German news magazine Der Spiegel made this its cover last week:

(Okay, Der Spiegel isn't technically a city, but we wanted something German.)

And back in London, a bunch of Parisians tried to give out croissants at Kings Cross station  ("Operation Croissant") to persuade waverers to vote Remain.

But, according to the Guardian:

the Electoral Commission said Operation Croissant was illegal under a law that prevents the use of food, drink or entertainment to influence voting.

The croissants were baked in Paris on Wednesday morning and transported to London on the first Eurostar train of the day. But the plan to give them out to commuters was thwarted when police intervened.

They were forced to give out cards instead.

 

The first results from today's referendum will start coming in the early hours of the morning. Our colleagues Helen Lewis and Stephen Bush will be liveblogging all night over at the Staggers.


 
 
 
 

There isn’t a war on the motorist. We should start one

These bloody people. Image: Getty.

When should you use the horn on a car? It’s not, and anyone who has been on a road in the UK in living memory will be surprised to hear this, when you are inconvenienced by traffic flow. Nor is it when you are annoyed that you have been very slightly inconvenienced by another driver refusing to break the law in a manner that is objectively dangerous, but which you perceive to be to your advantage.

According to the Highway Code:

“A horn should only be used when warning someone of any danger due to another vehicle or any other kind of danger.”

Let’s be frank: neither you nor I nor anyone we have ever met has ever heard a horn used in such a manner. Even those of us who live in or near places where horns perpetually ring out due to the entitled sociopathy of most drivers. Especially those of us who live in or near such places.

Several roads I frequently find myself pushing a pram up and down in north London are two way traffic, but allow parking on both sides. This being London that means that, in practice, they’re single track road which cars can enter from both ends.

And this being London that means, in practice, that on multiple occasions every day, men – it is literally always men – glower at each other from behind the steering wheels of needlessly big cars, banging their horns in fury that circumstances have, usually through the fault of neither of them, meant they are facing each other on a de facto single track road and now one of them is going to have to reverse for a metre or so.

This, of course, is an unacceptable surrender as far as the drivers’ ego is concerned, and a stalemate seemingly as protracted as the cold war and certainly nosier usually emerges. Occasionally someone will climb out of their beloved vehicle and shout and their opponent in person, which at least has the advantages of being quieter.

I mentioned all this to a friend recently, who suggested that maybe use of car horns should be formally restricted in certain circumstances.

Ha ha ha. Hah.

The Highway Code goes on to say -

“It is illegal to use a horn on a moving vehicle on a restricted road, a road that has street lights and a 30 mph limit, between the times of 11:30 p.m. and 07:00 a.m.”

Is there any UK legal provision more absolutely and comprehensively ignored by those to whom it applies? It might as well not be there. And you can bet that every single person who flouts it considers themselves law abiding. Rather than the perpetual criminal that they in point of fact are.


In the 25 years since I learned to drive I have used a car horn exactly no times, despite having lived in London for more than 20 of them. This is because I have never had occasion to use it appropriately. Neither has anyone else, of course, they’ve just used it inappropriately. Repeatedly.

So here’s my proposal for massively improving all UK  suburban and urban environments at a stroke: ban horns in all new cars and introduce massive, punitive, crippling, life-destroying fines for people caught using them on their old one.

There has never been a war on motorists, despite the persecution fantasies of the kind of middle aged man who thinks owning a book by Jeremy Clarkson is a substitute for a personality. There should be. Let’s start one. Now.

Phase 2 will be mandatory life sentences for people who don’t understand that a green traffic light doesn’t automatically mean you have right of way just because you’re in a car.

Do write in with your suggestions for Phase 3.