On Friday 14 December 2018, the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) held its annual Christmas luncheon at the Hemicycle in Luxembourg-Kirchberg.
Joanna Denton, BCC Chair, welcomed the 220 members and guests, including the Ambassador of the United Kingdom, John Marshall, and the Ambassador of Ireland, Peadar Carpenter, as well as the various sponsors involved in the seasonal event. She stressed the importance of community and of connection, including her own personal community over the past five years, and that of the Chamber which involves bringing people together, and also one’s own community and its connections. She reminded everyone to remember the people that are important to them, and to reach out and embrace them particularly during this festive season.
Following the 3-course turkey dinner, the British Ambassador to Luxembourg, John Marshall, referred to last year’s address on the #LUXUKLINKS exhibition and book, joking that it may just be a matter of time before it is next made into a film due to it being the success it has been.
Now that the number of links has risen to 141, he is considering bring out a second edition of the book. He also mentioned three new links, referencing a shared history between Luxembourg and Britain.
Firstly, he discovered that Luxembourg’s first police dogs were trained in the UK in 1974; the second referred to a royal wedding - not that of Price Harry but a headline “Charles to Marry Astrid” (of Luxembourg) from the Daily Express in 1977; and the third - in the 14th century, about counterfeit coins and involving John the Blind..
On Brexit, a topic he could hardly avoid, he stated that there continues to be much uncertainty, despite the major achievement of the UK and the EU in agreeing deal but which now needs clarification on certain issues, most notedly concerning the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, th2 "backstop". He explained that the British Prime Minister is seeking additional assurances to clarify that which has already been agreed, regarding the “backstop”. He mentioned that majority in the House of Commons wants Brexit to be delivered.
He also talked about what the British Embassy in Luxembourg does, and referenced the recent 3-part documentary programme on BBC about the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). He referred to the embassies in Senegal and Ethiopia, illustrating the programmes as well as consular services provided can determine the size of staff stationed at embassies. In Luxembourg the embassy work is different but equally diverse: regarding Brexit, a lot of time is spent talking with the Luxembourg government about a huge range of issues, as well as with industry, both goods and services, in education, science and research, and also with the British community.
Other issues discussed with government services include chemical weapons, modern slavery, Iran, illegal wildlife trade, Interpol, Bosnia, green finance, etc. The embassy also held various events at the Ambassador's residence, including an Open Day, the relaunch of the British Luxembourg Society, the centenary of the RAF, and it provides consular assistance to British nationals in Luxembourg, supporting diplomatic visitors from the UK, etc.
He also mentioned the Sufragette Movement, with 2018 being the centenary of women in the UK receiving the right to vote.
He concluded by hoping that 2019 brings health and happiness to everyone attending and wished everyone a Happy Christmas.