For Brexiteers, the news that we're going to have to replace our cod and chips with squid might be the final straw

I like to imagine two of these women, in Huddersfield, right this moment, clad in Union Jack mini-dresses bought off eBay, with home highlights, spam arms and flinty eyes, currently penning a pithy protest song for their YouTube channel rhyming ‘Evil, stupid Pinnegar’ with ‘Give us back our salt ’n’ vinegar’

Grace Dent
Monday 12 December 2016 15:57
Comments
Ed Miliband bought fish and chips for journalists travelling with him during his campaign trail
Ed Miliband bought fish and chips for journalists travelling with him during his campaign trail

In an only slenderly “United” Kingdom in need of no real reason to bicker, I am here to chuck petrol on the Brexit bonfire by declaring the death of cod and chips. Yes, the Great British Cod Supper is under threat, according to research led by Dr John Pinnegar of Cefas, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture, soon to be replaced with the more readily available calamari. It is time to learn to love squid. It looks like a gonad and tastes of nothing especially but, frankly, needs may lead to must.

Pinnegar’s outlook for 2025 and beyond suggests that seawater temperature will continue to rise. “As a result,” he says, “UK waters will become more hospitable for some species and less suitable for others.” Most commercial species will move northwards, he predicts, and in the meantime, squid numbers in the North Sea have increased rapidly.

Essentially, once the post-Brexit bunfight over sea territories has subsided, it feels to me likely that Britain’s little patch of watery turf, which we must ransack daily to support ourselves, is likely to be Squid City. It’s perfectly agreeable, incidentally, fresh and sliced thinly, wrapped in a light, crisp batter and served with a punchy, homemade aioli and nice bottle of Picpoul de Pinet. But I’m not helping, am I?

None of this will delight cod lovers, climate change deniers and staunch Brexiteers. And especially those who tick all three boxes at once. I like to imagine two of these women, in Huddersfield, right this moment, clad in Union Jack mini-dresses bought off eBay, with home highlights, spam arms and flinty eyes, currently penning a pithy protest song for their YouTube channel rhyming “Evil, stupid Pinnegar” with “Give us back our salt ’n’ vinegar.” Or perhaps “Calamari” with “Gonna need a bigger army”. But, a tad more seriously, it is the erosion of “British things” that is an especially touchy subject with many right now, and “cod and chips under threat” creates the perfect storm of Little Englander anxiety.

Many said in the run-up to Brexit that the Leave campaign’s most insidious gift was the promised return of little slices of a cosy half-remembered yesteryear. Back doors left open, morris-dancers on high days, cream teas, friendly bobbies on every corner, and a time where sitcoms littered with freedom of speech rendered us weak with mirth.

This revisionist puddle-vision will no doubt stretch to a time of cod and chip shops on every street served by twinkly-eyed chippy-owners who asked after your old mum, selling enormous, non-costly cods wrapped in yesterday’s local gazette. None of your chicken shish, pickled chillis, pizzas or cartons of curry sauce. None of your NHS nanny state snoopers pointing out the downfalls of diabetes, albeit a long-winded highly effective way to spend less on socks.

I’m guessing that many of the 52 per cent may refuse to acquiesce to a narrative where global warming, combined with the country’s intention to rethink Europe’s imperfect but nevertheless workable agreements over fishing territories, has led to their local chippy now serving mainly puntillitas salteadas. Nonsense: it will be those immigrants’ fault, coming over here, with their spicy, delicious multiculturalism.

Will you be able to remain an EU citizen after Brexit?

Or it will be Brussels’ fault. Those fatcats with their new unfairly shared-out fishing boundaries, steamrollering over the Great British Cod and Chips. Saying that, in a sense blaming Europe and Angela Merkel for our lack of cod does have cosily nostalgic ring to it. Those bloody Germans. Yet again, they bombed our chippy.

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