The warring factions of Great Britain and the European Union called a brief truce at noon yesterday to share food and drink with each other and to play a game of 13-a-side football on the green outside the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Members of both negotiating teams, including British prime minister, Theresa May and European Council President, Donald Tusk, approached each other tentatively outside the parliament building following a morning spent at loggerheads over Mrs May’s proposal to make changes to the Irish backstop agreement.
The protagonists then shook hands briefly before sharing their packed lunches and other refreshments.
At one point, the British produced a case of Spitfire Kentish Ale and handed out cans to their opposite numbers, while the Europeans opened bottles of wine and lager to share with their British counterparts.
Then, amid laughter and some good-natured catcalls, an old leather football was produced and a rather shambolic soccer match began, which the Brits won 4-2 after a controversial late effort from Brexit Secretary, Stephen Barclay, struck the crossbar and bounced down just behind the goal line.
It was a hard-fought but good-natured affair for the most part. However, the game ended on a sour note after European Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier, clattered Mrs May on the halfway line in injury time.
The two then squared up and there was some pushing and shoving, with Barnier calling the British Prime Minister, a “lanky Little Englander”, which May countered by calling the Frenchman, “an intransigent Frog twat.”