INTERNATIONAL – While the entire world is awaiting the results of the UK general election with great anticipation, the city of Antwerp has announced it would be prepared to welcome several thousands of British citizens, should a mass exodus follow a victory for Tory PM Theresa May, who has expressed intentions to pursue a ‘hard’ and uncompromising departure from the European Union. Concretely, the Belgian city has announced a total of six measures to help UK expats feel more “like home” should they choose to relocate to the historical Flemish trading hub.
1. Subsidised availability of vastly inferior food products and brown sauce
“The key to successful integration and a fulfilling lifestyle is being able to hold on to one’s cultural heritage,” a 73-page sociological study commissioned by mayor Bart De Wever (N-VA) concludes. “Therefore, we recommend that British expats should not be forcefully pushed or even subtly cajoled into adopting more varied and nutritional dietary habits. On the contrary, in order to ease the transition from their collective dependence on carbohydrate-saturated and highly carcinogenic products, recent immigrants should be encouraged to continue to celebrate and embrace their frankly suicidal adherence to shoving fucktons of crap down their gullets.” In response, the city has, in collaboration with the federal Department of Public Health, okayed the “steady supply” of “pretty much the fattiest, calory-induced crap available to mankind” to local pharmacists and health clinics to ensure “newcomers are able to get their fix and satisfy their self-destructive alimentary urges at the earliest convenience.”
2. Every hour is Happy Hour
In addition to securing the flow of fast food to desperate Brexit refugees, the city council has announced it will “honour, respect and even promote the age-old British tradition of getting systematically hammered, pissed and shitfaced around the clock to the point of irreparable public humiliation.” In order to achieve this, pubs, bars and cafés will be dissuaded from serving more customary tasteful, frothy beers or classic Trappists, and instead to switch to more stale, flavourless ales and lagers expertly designed to deny the consumer any sensory stimuli other than the urge to punch innocent bystanders to a pulp or go clubbing dressed up as farm animals or overly sexualised superheroes. “We should be aware of Brits’ inherent inability to forge meaningful relationships and overcome their natural awkwardness without being almost constantly intoxicated. There should be enough overlap between our peoples to reach a satisfactory level of mutual understanding on that front,” the Belgian ambassador in London explained in a statement to the city of Antwerp.
3. Professional hooliganism as a community-building pastime
In Britain, nothing builds and maintains a sense of community among the traditional working classes quite as effectively as swearing blind and unconditional allegiance to one’s football team of choice or birth, and kicking the living daylights out of any unfortunate soul sporting rivalling colours on match day. “One of the most challenging aspects of present-day mass immigration is the role of religion and faith-based extremism,” Mr. De Wever, who has been accused of exploiting public islamophobia, declared to the press. “But a secular, progressive and dynamic city as Antwerp would betray its enlightened principles if it did not give even the most irrational sports fanatics and violent lunatics some space to practice their beliefs and weekly rituals. Besides, now that both local teams Royal Antwerp F.C. and Beerschot-Wilrijk have won promotion to a higher league, their frankly amateurish troublemakers could greatly benefit from socialising with more experienced hooligans from overseas. If we’re lucky, we might even get some Millwall supporters to help professionalise our own unruly mobs.
4. Bi-weekly switch to left-hand driving
Perhaps the most obvious of cultural differences between life in British Isles and on the continent is the so-called handedness of traffic. Even though the British have shown uncanny and atypical pragmatism in gradually adopting the metric system over its antiquated imperial equivalent, they have remained annoyingly stubborn with regard to driving on the left. “This is a difficult one,” the Antwerp mayor has repeatedly conceded, “but we understand and respect our guests’ preferences and have looked for compromise where possible.” As a result, UK drivers will be allowed to switch back to their more familiar ways up to twice a week, “as long as they promise to be careful, try to stay out of everyone else’s way and stick to the prevailing traffic regulations during rush hour.”
5. Greater commitment to public queuing
It is public knowledge that Belgians detest queuing and will ceaselessly find ways to avoid it. Both Flemings and Walloons – as well their culturally more hybrid counterparts in the nation’s capital – have embraced seeking subtle ways to sneak ahead of their compatriots as an almost competitive pastime. Needless to say, the relative lack of appreciation of and time spent on the art of waiting in line tends to deeply upset and offend British visitors. “When I first came to Belgium,” UK expat Nicolette Chins-Ranton recounts, “I realised how much I had taken for granted the sheer pleasure of standing about idly and awkwardly, while patiently waiting my turn up to a point where I could not even remember what I was waiting for in the first place. Try ordering a pint of bitter or boarding a bus here and it’s the fucking law of the jungle out there. Sometimes, my UK friends and I get together on the Meir or Groenplaats and simply queue for about thirty to forty minutes. Simply to reconnect with our frustrated roots.” In response to Ms. Chins-Ranton’s moving testimonial, the Municipal Committee of More or Less Culturally Significant Activities has vowed to organise free workshops and public demonstrations to raise awareness and hopefully spur greater interest in one of Britain’s most long-standing traditions.
6. Let them have tea (with milk)
Finally, there are but few things that embody British culture as much as imbibing gallons of tea on a daily basis. Though the variety of popular tea types has been consistently vast ever since the aromatic beverage was first introduced to British life, Brits typically like their tea strong, with milk and in a proper mug. “We are grateful to the people of Antwerp for their sincere hospitality,” a spokesman for Let’s Make A Bloody Run For It, a charity that helps Brexit refugees relocate to the continent, publicly stated. “But all these lofty promises and best intentions mean fuck all if Brits are not allowed and even encouraged to carry their personal supply around at all times and interrupt any social interaction, public appearance or professional activity for a comfortable cup of Rosie Lee.” As a result, the city council has guaranteed British students and employees the “basic and inalienable right” to leave at least one hand free to hold and sip from up to 23 cups per day, even when “taking official examinations, driving, performing surgery or operating heavy machinery.”