"BREAKING: All EU passports to become dark blue"… the headline tweeted by the European Parliament’s London office might have prompted an Easter morning twitch among supporters and opponents of Brexit alike.
The UK’s announcement that in post-EU Britain, passports will return to an “iconic” and patriotic blue – and the subsequent news that the documents will be made by a Franco-Dutch firm – have stirred emotions in the Brexit debate.
There seemed little conviction behind the April Fools. There was no fabricated press release, instead the link accompanying the Parliament’s tweet takes you to the 1981 recommendation that European Community passports become burgundy red. But it did prompt the habitual exchange of niceties between Leavers and Remainers.
Not to be outdone, the Observer in the UK reports that Britain's Brexit divisions are being exploited by an Italian company based in Gibraltar — and that British politicians are suitably outraged.
Leave and Remain emojis named Brexit Bulldog and Starry Blue are being offered for download to spice up people's social media profiles, the paper says.
Euronews is relieved it did not fall for the prank — unlike another renowned international broadcaster.
‘Bateau de commerce’
On a similar theme, the timing of the Sunday Telegraph’s story — April 1, 12.01am — should have triggered alarm bells over its announcement that the EU is planning to build a ship modelled on the Royal Yacht Britannia to promote post-Brexit trade deals.
The report says “le trade yacht” will ferry EU officials around the world to try to rebuild ties with non-EU countries, particularly in the Commonwealth.
Horseriding with Putin
An unbeatable offer to go “hacking” through the Russian countryside with “everyone’s favourite Dad, Vlad.” The trip proposed by e-commerce site Wowcher promises customers they will spend time relaxing in the company of the Russian president.
A two-hour trek on horseback is followed by dinner and jazz, where guests will be treated to Putin himself performing crooner classics such as “Cri-Mea River” and “The Show Mos-Cow On”.
The bonus prize — “one lucky winner gets to ride bare-back with Donald Trump!” — suggests the whole offer should be taken with as many pinches of salt as it takes to fill a Russian salt mine.
Ed Sheeran Avenue
In New Zealand, news came that Dunedin City Council was considering renaming a street to honour the flame-haired singer ahead of his final show. Especially as Anzac Avenue — as it is currently named — pays tribute to Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in war.
The council had already been accused of going overboard in welcoming Sheeran, and the latest suggestion prompted much fury online.
Zoo-therapy – swim with the sharks!
Interact with farm animals — activities for children have long been promoted as good for their health by the Ani’nomade association in France’s Burgundy region. Pictures of horses, rabbits, llamas and birds adorn its website.
But April 1 brought an offer of extra excitement for thrill-seeking youngsters. A special aquatic programme offering the chance to interact not only with otters and sea-lions, but in due course, a basking shark and a whale shark too.
“Swimmers can cling on to their fins to get the full benefit of the speed, combined with pressure from the water, on blood circulation,” Ani’nomade told Le Parisien newspaper.
Le Bien Public reports that the Dijon association is seeking permission to set up an enclosure in a freshwater lake, and is liaising with a university in Costa Rica to turn the water salty so that the sharks can survive.
Shark-swimming workshops open to all with then be carried out by teams which have undergone training in a Tahiti lagoon. “These animals are not dangerous. A simple protective net should suffice,” said founder Claire Mongeot.
Eagles to operate speed traps
For those who manage to escape the sharks, a trip down the motorway from Dijon brings animal danger of a different kind. The Gendarmerie du Rhône in the southern French department warn that eagles flying overhead are equipped to control drivers' speed.
Its Facebook post explains that after police horses and dogs, it's now the turn of police motorcyclists to benefit from specially-trained animal companions. The Eagle squadrons swooping over drivers' heads will be equipped with mini-cameras capable of identifying the slightest suspicious behaviour.