Although Parliament is yet to vote on the Government’s draft Brexit agreement one of Eastleigh’s most established hotels has already called time on EU membership and shown it is ‘Brexit ready ‘ by hauling down the EU flag as part of “general routine maintenance” after a former Ukip county councillor told the manager local residents found it offensive.
For many years the Blue flag with gold stars of the European Union has flown proudly alongside the Union Jack outside the Holiday Inn on the busy junction of Passfield Avenue and Leigh Road – one of the main approaches to the town – but it has recently been taken down and replaced by a corporate flag.
Fair Oak resident Martin Lyon – formally Hampshire County Councillor for Bishopstoke and Fair Oak from 2013 to 2017, has told Eastleigh News that he visited the Hotel some months ago and complained to a manager about the flag – he heard no more about it for a while but recently drove past and noticed it had been removed – which he attributed to his intervention – however in a statement Jane Standing, General Manager, of the Holiday Inn, Eastleigh said:
We are not aware of any complaint regarding the flags outside our hotel. It is hotel policy to display a minimum of two flags: the brand flag and the choice of either a national or regional flag.
In this instance, the flags were replaced as part of general routine maintenance and not prompted by any other action.
Mr Lyon insisted that the flag had been replaced after he had made it clear to the Hotel that displaying it “was offensive to many local voters” – in the 2016 referendum, local people voted almost 40% to 36% to leave the bloc though last month Liberal Democrat councillors supported a motion in favour of a second referendum.
In an email to Eastleigh News explaining his objections, Lyon compared the offence caused by the EU flag to that of Nazi symbols.
For some, the EU flag is genuinely offensive pure and simple. It represents something undemocratic and oppressive that we do not agree with, namely a federal corrupt, super state that contradicts our own constitution, and therefore should be taken down.
If they flew a swastika it would be offensive for the same reasons – and more – and therefore taken down without question.
The European Flag was first adopted by the Council of Europe in 1955 with the exit of the United Kingdom from the EU on 29 March 2019 now only months away it is set to be less visible in British public life.