‘To Hell With Europe’: English Town Cuts Ties with French, German Twin Cities - News - International
To hell with Europe, the tiny English town of Bishop’s Stortford has decided. The community was twinned with Friedberg in Germany and Villiers-sur Marne in France for 46 years. But the mayor, a Tory like Prime Minister David Cameron, has cancelled the partnership in a one-page letter, offering no explanation.
The fate of Europe won’t be decided in Bishop’s Stortford, of course. But this pretty little market town near London has turned itself into a miniature battleground in Prime Minister David Cameron’s campaign against Europe.
A group of local politicians from his Conservative Party there has taken matters into its own hands, and their message is plain and simple: to hell with Germany, France and Europe.
It’s the end of November. Berlin, Paris and London are arguing about the future shape of the European Union and the euro zone. But in Bishop’s Stortford, the die has already been cast.
Mayor John Wyllie has written letters to his honourable counterparts in the town’s two twin cities: Friedberg near the German financial capital of Frankfurt, and Villiers-sur-Marne near Paris. He isn’t writing to invite them to the usual partnership ceremonies, conferences or youth exchange programs. He is writing to cancel the town’s friendship with them, after 46 years.
On September 28, 2012, Wyllie informed them that his town would sever all ties with the twin towns. He gave no reason for this break-off of diplomatic relations.
In Friedberg and Villiers, the civic leaders are astounded. Michael Keller, the mayor of Friedberg, said the last decades “were a successful period.” The concept of twin cities was a little dated, the member of the center-left Social Democratic party admitted, but the relationship could have been changed or improved. A conversation over the matter was the “minimum” he would have expected.
Keller believes the Conservative town council of Bishop’s Stortford simply wanted to show “what it thinks of Europe.” He said it was regrettable, and even dangerous. “The local authorities are system-relevant in Europe, not the banks,” he warned. Meaning: If cooperation stopped working at the municipal level, one might as well forget partnership at the higher levels.