It was the night before Christmas. In Lapland, Santa Claus and his little helpers were loading the last few parcels onto the sleigh – toys, games, and cosmetics gifts sets of course. An elf was applying extra blusher to Rudolph, the red nosed reindeer. It was going to be a foggy night.
‘Bring me the list of the boys and girls who have been good’ cried Santa, as he prepared to mount the sleigh for the long night’s work ahead.
‘Oh Santa’, said the Chief Elf wearily, ‘don’t you remember that the list has been digitised? It’s on your special Santa app, and integrated into the sleigh GPS’. ‘Ah.. yes’, said Santa, a little embarrassed as he fumbled with his smartphone.
Santa swept a snowflake from his brow and climbed on to the sleigh. ‘Time to go!’ he called to the reindeers. But just then, he heard a cry pierce the chilly night ‘Wait!’. Santa paused. It was the Chief Elf. ‘Santa, Santa, we have just realised that some of the presents are covered by the EU’s retaliatory list of tariffs, like the cosmetics for example. I am not sure we can deliver them without paying the tax’!
Santa smiled. ‘Don’t worry my little friend. Christmas is a time when we remember the value of free trade, which has made more and better presents available to the good people of the world.’ He signalled to Rudolph to lead the way.
But again, he heard a shout of ‘Wait!’. It was the assistant Chief Elf, running from the grotto. ‘Santa’ he cried ‘we have calculated that you will deliver presents tonight to good people in 103 different jurisdictions. Many of these have different regulations – how do we know things like the gift sets will comply?’
Santa smiled again, and calling Rudolph to halt, said calmly ‘Christmas is a time when we remember that the more that regulations are compatible, the easier it is for the good people of the world to get access to the presents they love. Here in Lapland we follow the EU regulation, so at least know that all we deliver is safe!’
The reindeers were snorting eagerly, ready to begin their annual journey round the globe. Santa looked nervously at his watch. But the assistant Chief Elf, a very stubborn fellow, was unmoved. ‘At least we should only deliver presents that are free of preservatives’ he said.
Santa was a patient man. ‘Look, my dear assistant Chief Elf. Christmas is a time when we remember that science helps us tell what a risk for us is and what is not, and we know that the preservatives we use have been thoroughly assessed for their safety. After all, people don’t want Christmas presents going mouldy by New Year!’.
The fog was thickening over Lapland, and Rudolph’s nose, enhanced by a dash of bright lipstick, was beginning to glow. ‘See you in the morning my little friends, it’s really time to be off!’ said Santa as he gazed into the sky. But just as the sleigh was about to lift off towards the snowy heavens, the Chief Elf pulled a letter from his pocket and waved it at Santa.
‘My goodness, what now?’ said Santa. The Chief Elf looked apologetically at the wise old man. ‘It’s just we had this letter asking for a present, and we don’t know what to do, Santa’.
‘Another letter? What can it be?
‘Well Santa, it’s from a Mrs T May, of 10 Downing Street. She has asked for frictionless trade, an end to free movement, and the right to do her own trade deals, all without any costs’.
Santa took a deep breath of frosty air. ‘My dear fellow, Christmas is a time when we remember
And with that he headed for the skies.