Westminster Correspondent Kate Proctor shares her thoughts on the EU, the out campaign and cuckoo clocks.
A year ago I spent six days frantically driving through Europe on what me and my boyfriend would describe as a ‘holiday’, and in anyone else’s world might be described as the highlights of the continental motorway system.
We had a great time, and ticked northern Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia off the list. Being two of the world’s worst time-keepers, we didn’t leave enough time for Venice before our flight but sprinted through St Mark’s Square, took a picture of it and looked at it on the plane home.
The Dolomites mind you were a sight to behold, Austria was beyond boring, Switzerland was like stepping into Narnia and Slovenia was a very cool and unexpected discovery, and the bars of trendy captial Lljubljana do a cracking Aperol Spritz.
However the trip was made when we passed a service-station-cum-cuckoo-clock shop off the SS38 on the Italian/Swiss border. It never fails to amaze me what one can purchase at 7000ft above sea leavel.
It really was a heavenly holiday, and we only had to get our passports out once to get into Switzerland. I couldn’t quite get over the fact we could drive hundreds of miles a day in an unbroken stretch, crossing country after country with no hassle. If this is ever-closer integrated Europe, then sign me up!
Then the migrant crisis happened, and those same stretches of motorway and border crossing we had driven through so breezily became a dark reminder of how fragile the whole concept is. Britain was tested once again on what it’s relationship should be with it’s EU neighbours in shouldering the burden of migrants and refugees.
While for me, the EU had been nothing more than a place for holidays, using up my left over euros and whipping out my matching dark red passport, for many in Yorkshire their lives are entwined completely with this political and econommic institution.
Whether it’s basic payments to farmers, the need (or not) for migrant workers or employment laws for small business owners and major trade deals, there’s no avoiding the fact that the EU referendum matters. And EU migration really matters.
And while you’re flicking between Saturday Kitchen and making plans for the weekend, the Prime Minister is likely to be contemplating the huge and very real ‘battle’ he now faces in winning over the British public.
Bleary eyed discussions in Brussels are nothing compared to the fight he will have to ensure voting goes his way.
He’s lost the support of Justice Secretary Michael Gove, also work and pensions secretary Ian Duncan Smith and influtential Boris Johnson is keeping him waiting, denting his post-EU council victorious moment.
In Yorkshire, Conservatives for the out campaign include David Davis MP (Howden and Haltemprice), Andrew Percy (Brigg and Goole), Andrea Jenkyns (Morley and Outwood) and Philip Davies (Shipley).
New kid on the block, campaign group Grassroots Out, is also starting to make waves and you can’t deny the oratorial skills of UKIP’s Nigel Farage, and more recently Northern Irish MP Ian Paisley junior, who makes a fervent case for farmers to vote to leave the EU.
I genuinely think there’s been a significant underestimation on the Prime Minister’s part on how many people want to leave, and the next few months could be far more of a struggle than he ever anticipated.
Personally I’ll await serious polling to get underway before making any firm bets on whether it’s Brexit, or essentially business as usual with Britain maintaining its presecnce as the EU’s awkward partner.
So 2015’s dash through Central Europe may be my lasting memory of pre-referendum, and pre-migration crisis Europe.
Or there’s every chance that if we were to repeat the trip in a few years we’d find nothing had changed.
And after all this fuss, that really would be cuckoo.