Welcome to Declassified, a weekly column looking at the lighter side of politics.
Priorities are so important. For example, if, say, you had a crisis at your border, with a deadly standoff in which thousands of migrants were stranded, camped in freezing temperatures and often without access to food, youâ€™d probably think: â€œQuick, letâ€™s get a commemorative coin minted!â€
Thatâ€™s what happened in Poland, where the National BankÂ announcedÂ it would accelerate the issuance of a special collectorsâ€™ coin â€œdedicated to the defense of the Polish eastern borderâ€ (thatâ€™ll be the one that includes Belarus). Wonder if you can spend the coins on blankets, soup and visas?
On the subject of migration-stories-that-have-gone-a-bit-weird, congratulations if you had â€œsports shop becomes front line of migration rowâ€ on your news bingo card! Yes, branches of the retailer Decathlon in northern France have stopped selling canoes to prevent migrants from using them to cross to the U.K.
Buying a canoe â€œwill no longer be possibleâ€ in Decathlon stores in Calais and Grande-Synthe, near Dunkirk, â€œgiven the current context,â€ the retailer told AFP. A quick glance at Decathlon Franceâ€™s website reveals that there are currently product recalls on harnesses, swimming shorts and multivitamins, so perhaps the company isnâ€™t stopping at canoes and is getting rid of any item that could be of use when making the potentially-deadly journey to Britain.
Canoeing migrants are not the only things being stopped from making the Channel crossing. According to media reports, pies made in the U.K. will be banned from export to the EU if their ingredients do not come from an â€œapprovedâ€ farm or factory. According to the Independent, a Conservative former trade minister raised concerns about the exports of â€œchicken, ham and mushroom pies.â€
Is there such an export market? Are the people of, say, Marseille up in arms, shouting: â€œThis dinner of pieds paquets and bouillabaisse is all well and good, but what we really wanted was a British chicken, ham and mushroom pie!â€???
You thought COVID was bad, then wait for the Great Pastry War of 2022!
â€œWave to the people and act normally and no one will get hurt. â€œ
Last week we gave you this photo:
Thanks for all the entries. Hereâ€™s the best from our postbag (thereâ€™s no prize except for the gift of laughter, which I think we can all agree is far more valuable than cash or booze).
â€œAnd when I use very small private planes for travel, it is for the purpose of saving the planet. Do you understand?â€ by Albrecht Rothacher.
Paul Dallison isÂ POLITICOâ€˜s slot news editor