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25 things that Europe has done for London

By Matt Breen

Post-Brexit, the entire nation has gone out-and-out gaga. Remain voters are demanding another referendum. Even some Leave voters – now called Regrexiters – are also demanding another referendum. The entire political establishment is running round in circles as Brussels keeps asking when and who is going to push the big Article 50 button. So in this time of high passions and national divide, we stopped to reflect for a minute and asked just what exactly HAS Europe ever given us? Are we really going to miss the Union that much? (Spoiler: yes.)

1. Food

Sometimes among the traditional British dishes on our menus – liver and onions, suet pudding – you’ll find a few weird European imports. Things like pizza. And pasta. And tapas. Not that they’ll ever catch on.

2. Drink

Wine, wheat beer, champagne, sangria, port, prosecco, grappa, sherry, ouzo, schnapps – and just a few hundred others.


A photo posted by Celine Klein (@celineklein) on


The international exchange programme that’s had European students sharing ideas, values and STDs since 1987.

4. Decent coffee

Back in the 1950s, the espresso machine was introduced to Soho by Italian immigrants, and became an essential part of the area’s bohemian explosion.  

5. Jean Paul Gaultier

One of the few members of the fashion world that actually seems to get how funny the whole thing is.

 Our language

No, English wasn’t invented by a BBC committee in the 1930s; it’s actually a mish-mash of French, Latin and pretty much every other culture that’s ever set foot on these shores.

7. Eurocamp

Ah, those fond memories of family holidays in Northern France the early ’90s. Bliss.

8. Calais booze runs

Slightly less blissful memories.

9. Nearly everything inside our museums

Although, post-Brexit, we’re surely giving the Elgin Marbles back to Greece, right? Right?

10. Nicolas Sarkozy’s elevator shoes

Way before The Donald's combover ever entered the political scene, Nic was playing his own tricks.

11. Bunga Bunga

Once a reference to ex-Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi’s infamous sex parties; now a vibrant drinking spot in Battersea. Now THAT’S cultural enrichment.

12. Cornettos

As essential to the British summer as wasp stings and lukewarm Carling, this ice-cream cone was created by in 1950s Naples.



A photo posted by Ilaria Scognamiglio (@ily89d) on

13. Interrail

Before chugging mushroom shakes in Thailand became a viable alternative, train travel around Europe was everyone’s number one choice for gap-year adventure.

14. Christoph Waltz

Pfff, whatever. We’ve got our very own charismatic movie villain, Alan… oh.

15. Arséne Wenger

Now Roy Hodgson’s fallen on his sword, the legendary Arsenal manager looks like the chief contender for the England manager job. 

16. Ankara fabric

Often assumed to be African in origin, this bright, patterned fabric in fact originated in Holland.

17. Lidl

The seller of the best chorizo this side of the Pyrenees (seriously, if you haven’t had it BUY SOME NOW) originated in Germany in the 1930s.

18. The name ‘Farage’

It’s Huguenot. Look it up.

19. The city’s tallest building

The Shard came courtesy of Italian architect Renzo Piano.

20. All-night restaurants

Perfect after those late-night cafés.


A photo posted by Juta (@juta.cera) on

21. Cycle lanes

These originated in the Netherlands at the end of the nineteenth century.  

22. Free access to the museums and galleries

Like in London (for now), many of Europe's finest institutions are free of charge, and open to all.

23. A few tedious bits of employment legislation

Like minimum paid leave, equal pay, extended maternity and paternity rights, and anti-discrimination measures.

25. Pure, simple excitement

Try walking through Barcelona’s La Mercé festival, or driving across the Swiss-Italian border in the Alps, or partying at a 24-hour Berlin nightclub, and not feel that to be European is to be part of something special. Just try.

See pictures from the pro-EU rally in Trafalgar Square

Or find out why Boris Johnson has become a porn star (sort of)


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