Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

Stealing Freedom of Movement

Derek-Bennett-1960s-passport-photo Off on an adventure!

 The photo of me is from 1968 when I was young, beardless and fresh faced, it was one taken for my very first passport. In those days our British passports were wonderful things, they were dark blue with a hard cover and inside were the instructions from our Monarch to let the holder of the passport pass without let or hinderance. As I used that passport I would look at travellers from other nations with pity as their passports were flimsy things and nowhere as near as impressive as my British passport.

However, there was a serious problem with my brand new passport when it arrived in the post, unlike the passports of all my well travelled friends who had loads of stamps in theirs from all the exotic places they had visited, my passport was pristine as I had never left these shores.

With some friends we had originally been planning a holiday to Spain in that year, but like so many plans made by callous youth, as we were then, our trip to what was still General Franco's Spain never came to fruition, it was two years later in 1970 when my virgin passport was to be finally put to use. That year some friends had made plans to drive across Europe to southern Italy where they would get the ferry across to Corfu. Anther friend had, the previous year, hitch hiked there and was thinking of doing so again when he finished his studies at teachers training college. He decided he would spend the summer hitchhiking around Europe until he was due to start his first job as a full time teacher.

At the time I felt in a rut so decided to quit my job, sell my lovely Triumph Spitfire (which I wish I still owned) and in July 1970 we both set off on our great adventure and had arranged to meet up with our other friends in Corfu. As it was my first time abroad I was eager to get a load of stamps in my very clean passport. We left home at silly o'clock in the morning and by early afternoon we were in Dover and had booked our ferry tickets to Zeebrugge for the evening crossing. As we left the ferry later that night and I put feet onto foreign soil for the very first time, I was eager to get my first stamp in my passport. Much to my dismay a bored looking border guard just waved us through and my passport remained stampless - bugger!

We soon got a lift through the night with a Flemish lorry driver who was going into Germany, at the border he went one way with his papers and told us to go another way to show our passports. We were stopped by a policeman and when he knew we were not vagrants he sent us back to await the lorry driver and my virgin passport remained free of what should have been its second stamp - bugger again!

After the lorry driver dropped us off we got a few lifts through Germany, including a hair raising ride from one side of Stuttgart to the other in a psychedelic painted 1950's Mercedes, we arrived close to the German Swiss border around 10 pm. As we could not get a lift we went into a lively bar for the rest of the evening before sleeping on nearby park benches. The following morning a painter and decorator picked us up, he was going to work in Switzerland. As we neared the border he did not slow down, I looked at the heavily armed border police and began to panic we were going to be shot as he showed no sign of stopping. As he whizzed across the border he gave a friendly wave and toot on his horn, as he obviously did every working day. Instead of bullets flying we got a smile and a wave back from the border police and we were in Switzerland. After the panic I was miffed as that was another stamp missing from my still clean passport bugger and bugger again! After getting a lift from the top St Gotthard Pass to Venice, and again passing into Italy without another stamp, we gave up hitchhiking and travelled overnight on the train to Brindisi for the ferry to Corfu where, at long last, I got the one and only stamp ever to grace that passport.

This of course was in the days before the UK went mad and joined what we then called the 'Common Market' and Schengen was nothing more than a glint in an EU bureaucrats eye. Although the continent had road tolls we had no such thing in the UK, we paid for a tax disc each year and could roam freely in our cars across the width and length of the land, from John O'Groats to Lands End in what were far less eco friendly vehicles in those days. In 1970 cars had no catalytic converters, there was lead in the fuel, diesels pumped out smoke and did not have diesel particulate filters and if you got over 30 MPG in your car that was considered to be a very economic vehicle.

Yet, despite vehicles being the cleanest they have ever been, all sorts of anti-freedom of movement schemes are being imposed upon us by idiots such as Sadiq Khan who seems to think he has more mechanical knowledge about the internal combustion engine than the Ministry of Transport who, with its MOT, passes the majority of cars as clean as part of its annual testing system with an emissions test. Cars that fail that test are either scrapped or repaired and are then considered clean enough for use - but not for comrade Khan who is now creating mayhem and misery for the poorest across greater London, all who have perfectly good and serviceable cars. and fully approved as clean by the MOT mechanics. With his rip-off £12.50 a day charge Khan has now restricted the freedom of movement of many Londoners.

Across France and several other countries restrictions are coming in or have been introduced. Anyone who wants to visit and drive in France now have to apply for a disc which gives your car a rating from zero for electric cars (glorified milk floats!), to 5 for an old, well serviced and perfectly good diesel vehicle such as my geriatric Jag. As an owner an old diesel car my freedom of movement is now curtailed, I would not be allowed to drive it into Paris (not that I would with the lunatic Parisian drivers), however, it is the same here. Near to where I live Birmingham now has an £8 daily charge for cars such as mine. These days when travelling from one side of the city centre to the other, instead of using the fastest route which takes just under ten minutes, now, with masses of other traffic, I have to take the best part of 30 minutes in stop start traffic, which is the most polluting, to do the same journey. In order to, allegedly, give cleaner air in Birmingham city centre. Sadly, instead of achieving this the Labour lunatics, who run the City Council, have created a whole ring of pollution around the city centre as well as stealing the freedom of movement from many of us.

Several cities now have ULEZ which is removing the freedom of movement for many, including Bristol which now traps and fines many none Bristol drivers of none compliant cars who are following the road signs directing them to Bristol airport. It can't be very nice after returning from a fortnight in Benidorm to find a fine from Bristol Council on your doormat simply because they don't like your MOT compliant car.

With plans for fifteen minute towns and cities, which are designed to hem people in, moves to stop people from flying being mooted by the climate change elites, ludicrous 20 mph limits and low traffic neighbourhoods, our freedom to travel freely are being steadily removed and stolen. Welcome to the serfdom of the future. 

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Director : Robert Oulds
Tel: 020 7287 4414
Chairman: Barry Legg
The Bruges Group
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Founder President :
The Rt Hon. the Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven LG, OM, FRS 
Vice-President : The Rt Hon. the Lord Lamont of Lerwick,
Chairman: Barry Legg
Director : Robert Oulds MA, FRSA
Washington D.C. Representative : John O'Sullivan CBE
Founder Chairman : Lord Harris of High Cross
Head of Media: Jack Soames