Pickles quashes Europe Day
Today is Europe Day – the anniversary of the 'Schuman Declaration', when, in Paris in 1950, the French foreign minister Robert Schuman proposed a new form of political cooperation for Europe, the objective being to make war between Europe’s nations unthinkable. And in commemoration of this marvellous event, above every Government Building customarily flies the flag of the European Union.
But not above the Department of Communities and Local Government.
For Eric Pickles has successfully renegotiated to remove the requirement in EU law to fly the EU flag outside the DCLG building on Europe Day. This applied to DCLG, BIS, DEFRA and the DWP.
Instead, he has raised the flag of Jersey in Whitehall, London, to mark 'Jersey Liberation Day' and the liberation of the Channel Island’s from Nazi occupation.
On 9th May 1945 – just one day after Winston Churchill declared the end of war and that “our dear Channel Islands are also to be freed” – HMS Beagle arrived in Jersey to accept the surrender of the occupying forces. Swastika drapes were lowered and replaced with the Union Jack, and the crowds cheered and wept for joy. Guernsey was also liberated the same day.
Events to mark the liberation of Jersey from German occupation during World War Two now take place every year on that date. The raising of the British flag at the Pomme D'Or Hotel has been reenacted every year since the 50th anniversary of the island’s liberation. The Channel Islands are not part of the European Union, but have their own individually negotiated agreements, including a Customs Union.
Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said: “We are stronger as a society when we celebrate the ties that bind us together, and we should fly the flags of our communities with pride. Today it is right that we honour Jersey’s freedom from tyranny. This British Crown Dependency suffered a five-year occupation by Nazi Germany during World War Two. Jersey’s Liberation Day is a timely reminder about the freedoms that we take from granted across the British Islands.
Senator Philip Ozouf, Treasury and Resources Minister for Jersey, pictured with Mr Pickles, said: “Liberation Day is first and foremost a time of celebration for Jersey, as the point at which we regained our freedom and autonomy. Yet it is also a chance to reflect on an experience that is still felt deeply in our Island and to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the British-led cause of freedom in the world. The raising of the Jersey Flag in Whitehall on this most important of days for the Island is a significant symbol of Jersey’s strong relations with the United Kingdom, our historic partner and friend. Our relationship with the British Crown has existed for over 800 years and, as such, the Jersey flag flying in London is an important symbol of the unity of our past, present and future. I very much hope that this powerful new tradition will continue.”
And His Grace very much hopes that Eric Pickles will continue, too.