What a contrast (in more ways than one)!


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After yesterday’s superb autumn weather we’ve had a complete change. I’ve been working  from home and I’ve hardly been able to see the other side of the valley all day! The fog came in this morning and it’s stuck, now it’s evening and the day seems to have slipped away into the murk.

I’ve been busy editing the pictures that I’ve taken in London and West Yorkshire before uploading them to my Zenfolio picture website. If you follow this link you can see the galleries I’ve added them to. I’ll upload a few here as samples.

In London I had a look at the old Liverpool St – Shenfield rail route that will become park of Crossrail, or the ‘Lizzie line’ if you prefer its new name. The old BR built Class 315 trains that have plied the route since 1980 are being replaced by the new Bombardier built Class 345s.

DG312949. 315843. Shenfield. 14.11.18crop

315843 and a sister unit sit in the new bay platform at Shenfield that was built to take Crossrail trains. 13th November 2018

DG313009. 345003. Manor Park. 14.11.18crop

Bombardier built 345003 approaches Manor Park in East London on a service to Shenfield. These 7 car units are replacing the 4 car class 315s and will operate the delayed Crossrail services from 2019.

A day later, on a very different railway, I was ensconced on a hill in West Yorkshire in equally stunning weather – but far more trees, and a lot shorter trains!

DG313076. 142019.142086. Walsden. 15.11.18crop

A pair of Northern Rail Pacers cross the Rochdale canal on the Gauxholme bridge as they make their way from Leeds to Manchester. In the background is the town of Todmorden. The autumnal colours in the leaves have been spectacular this year.

DG313150. Northern class 156. Todmorden 15.11.18crop

A Northern Rail Class 156 traverses the viaduct that crosses the centre of Todmorden. The railway station can just be seen trough the trees to the left.



Rolling blog: Autumn colours


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I was trying to get some autumn leaf colour shots the other day when I was rudely interrupted by the weather and the need to head to London. Today I’m back and the conditions are superb. Here’s my current location, looking down over Todmorden in West Yorkshire. The climb’s a bit of a bugger when you’ve a camera bag on your back, but it’s well worth it!


I can’t upload any camera pictures right now, but I have to say, the light’s been gorgeous! The only problem is that the light doesn’t last long this time of years and the long shadows soon creep in

I’m back in Todmorden now as (foolishly) I took water with me but no food – so I was rather peckish by mid-afternoon and the days exertions. West Yorkshire ain’t flat!

Tod’ has a lovely little market, both indoor and outdoor, it nestles in the shadow of the railway viaduct and I keep meaning to come here one morning to get shots juxtaposing the two. The outdoor market sells all manner of stuff, especially bric a brac, whilst the indoor one has some good butchers selling locally sourced meat. There’s also a very popular coffee stall. Here’s a couple of shots.

Whilst I’m waiting for my train home I’ve popped into the Queens Hotel which is across the road from the station for a swift pint before heading home. They have two local ales on. One of which commemorates the Great War.


I’m back at home in front of the computer screen, so here’s a couple of sample of the pictures I’ve been after today.

DG313096. 158756. Walsden. 15.11.18crop

DG313120. 66617. Walsden. 15.11.18crop

What a f*****g Brexitshambles!



So, less than 24 hours after the Government supposedly signing off Theresa May’s 500 page draft Brexit deal, the Brexit rats start deserting the sinking ship, first to go: Raab C Brexit, the Brexit Secretary and man who never realised the significance of the port of Dover as a trade route! He was quickly followed by a minor minister responsible for Northern Ireland whom most had never even heard of, Shailesh Vara. An hour later, Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey followed.

All of them complained that the deal was a bad deal. No f*****ng shit, Sherlock! There never was going to be a better deal than the one we had and to see them now complaining that (in actual fact) Brexit leaves us with less sovereignty than we had makes my blood boil!

The sight of the Brexit fundamentalists having to admit that the whole shabby process they pushed for will not end up with the sunny uplands they promised would be funny if it wasn’t so serious. The damage these people have done to the country due to their ignorance and obstinacy in refusing to deal with reality is only just starting to become plain. Let’s just remind ourselves of some of the false claims they made.

brexit lies

No ‘downside’ eh? A ‘better deal’ eh? We ‘hold all the cards’? Pfft!

Can you imagine what our European neighbours are thinking of us as they watch this shit-shower unfold? Britain has been brought low by the ignorance and dogmatism of its politicians, the manipulations of media moguls, billionaires, and spivs carrying Belizean diplomatic passports – plus English arrogance and the insane belief that somehow we were special and these things only happened to foreigners. Meanwhile, there’s several million EU nationals living in the UK (and vice versa) living their lives in complete uncertainty.

How this complete shambles will play out over the next few days and weeks is anyone’s guess. May’s deal is so much waste paper now. It’s  been binned along with Britain’s standing in the world. meanwhile, the clock continues to tick. We’ve wasted two and a half years as our politicians argue and manoeuvre amongst themselves. Or, in the case of the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, go missing entirely.

Britain is about to be served a very large slice of humble pie and the really stupid thing is – we baked it ourselves.


Rolling blog: it’s Showtime!


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I’m up early and waiting To grab a quick breakfast before heading off to the Institute of Mechanical Engineers with my colleagues from TALGO, ready for this morning’s press conference where the company has an exciting announcement to make…


Sunrise over Hounslow.

My fellow conspirators on the tube.

The District line may be busy, but at least the stock is full size – and air – conditioned!


Ready to rock and roll…

09:43. The President of TALGO, Carlos de Palacio (right), discussing the future with The Scottish Transport Minister, Michael Matheson.


It’s official: TALGO’s factory site is Longannet in Scotland, with an Innovation centre to be built in Chesterfield, England.



Job done, I’ve taken my leave of IMechE and popped over to Parliament to offer my support to the people opposing the madness of Brexit which is carrying on across the road right now.

Weather wise, it’s a beautiful day in London.

Politically, it’s an utter shambles. The area around Parliament’s swarming with camera crews eager to grab shots of the political circus. Will we still have a Government in a couple of weeks? Who knows?


I left the political madness and headed to old haunts out East to see how the Great Eastern suburban service from Liverpool St to Shenfield’s changing now. Having been absorbed into the London Underground a few years ago there’s further changes now. The Class 315s which have been the backbone of the route since 1980 are being replaced by the Bombardier built Class 345s. Only a handful of the new trains were running today, but the writings on the wall for the 315s as several have already headed off to various scrapyards. Mind you, I’m not complaining. The new trains are a lot more comfortable! Here’s what the interior of the 345s looks like.


I’m now homeward bound on Grand Central’s 16:27 Kings Cross – Bradford Interchange – and it’s absolutely rammed! This 5-Car Class 180 has people camped out in the vestibules in Standard Class whilst there’s just a single seat spare in 1st Class. Not bad when you consider this service is non-stop as far as Doncaster! Gone are the early days of the West Riding service when having a couple of dozen on was an average load, now GC are incredibly successful. The problem now is how they cater for future growth as the 180s are fixed formation sets – and a small fleet to boot.

The 16:27 has been retimed recently, which appears to have contributed to it’s excellent loadings (this is a Peak service too). It used to leave London at 16:05. That extra time in London means business folk have more flexibility, making it more attractive. Here’s how it looks in Standard and 1st today.

Rolling blog: tales of the unexpected…


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There was me, having a quiet day at home, catching up on some chores, paperwork and blogging, when the phone rang. Next thing I knew I had a commission in London tomorrow morning for something that will remain “hush hush” at this stage (all will be revealed on Wednesday).

I’d nipped out to get some autumnal pictures around Todmorden as the leaves are looking stunning at the moment. As is often the case, the the weather didn’t play ball but hopefully I’ll show you the fruits later. Right now I’ve got to head home as things have stepped up and I need to get to London this evening.

Sadly, (as often happens now) Northern services are running late so my schedules slipped already…


Home, packed and off again. Now to get to London…


Despite more late running by Northern I made it from Halifax to Leeds to catch my LNER service to London. Northern provided 2-car 150270 to work the 17:43 so it was full and standing as far as Bradford. I had 15 mins to make my connection which gave me just enough time to grab a sandwich before boarding. This time of evening the trains fairly quiet. I’d estimate it’s about 25-30% capacity after leaving Doncaster.


We’ve now left Peterborough to run non-stop to London. We’ve exchanged a fair few passengers too, leaving our numbers slightly down but not much. I use to make this trip regularly back in the late 80s-early 90s and it was always a trade off between cost and time. You paid a premium for the Intercity train taking 50 mins or saved yourself few quid and caught the slower stopping service – although the clientele could be less condusive to enjoying the journey…

I’m enjoying the LNER Mk4 rake I’m travelling on because of the new information screens which are at the end of each coach. They tell you about journey times, stops and connections, so they’re really useful. Real-time information makes such a difference to being able to plan onward connections.


I’ve swapped the national network for the delights of the Piccadilly line.


Phew! Arrived at the hotel in Hounslow ready for a busy day tomorrow. My colleagues are already abed as it’s an early start with breakfast at 07:00. Tomorrow’s rolling blog should be interesting…

The twilight of the Merseyrail Class 507/508 fleets.


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*this blog’s currently under construction. More pictures have been added on 13 Nov.*

Yet another old British Railways fleet is approaching the end of its life, this time on Merseyside, where the Class 507/508 fleets will soon be replaced by new trains from Stadler in Switzerland.

The Class 507s were built to work on Merseyside, replacing the LMS built Class 502 units on Northern line services from Liverpool to Southport, Ormskirk and Kirkby. 33 sets were built by BREL in York in 1978 followed by 43 Class 508s in 1979-80. Originally, the 508s were built as 4-car units for the Southern region of BR and operated out of Waterloo on former LSWR routes. Between 1982-84 they were reduced to 3 car units and transferred to Merseyside to replace the former LMS Class 503 units that operated Wirral line services to New Brighton, Rock Ferry and West Kirby. Nowadays the two fleets are interchangeable and work both sides of the Mersey. They’re the oldest EMUs working on the UK mainland after the Class 313s.

Over the years a number of the units have been stored or withdrawn as surplus to requirements. Just 27 of the original 43 508s work on Merseyside but only one 507 (507022) has been withdrawn.

Here’s a look back at their lives and times.

DG16081. 507001. Liverpool Central. 24.4.08.crop

The first of the fleets, 507001, arrives at Liverpool Central on the Wirral lines on the 24th April 2008.

DG16759. 507002. Ormskirk. 30.5.08.CROP

On the 30th May 2008 507002 comes off the double track section to run into the single platform at Ormskirk.

02547. 507007. Hall Rd. 15.6.91.

A flashback to BR days when the 507s were in original condition (note the original light clusters). 507007 calls at Hall Rd whilst working a service to Southport. To the left is the old Hall Rd EMU depot which closed in 1997 and was demolished in 2009. Picture taken 15th June 1991.

DG120020. 507007. New Brighton. 6.8.12.crop

Fast-forward to the 6th August 2012 and the same unit (507007) waits to leave New Brighton on the Wirral with a service back to Liverpool.

DG51544. 507009. Cressington. 13.5.10.crop

On the 13th May 2010 507009 drops off passengers at Cressington on the former Cheshire Lines route through to Garston (now known as Liverpool South Parkway) was only electrified in 1978.

7084. 507010. Stored. West Kirby. 9.8.99.

At the end of the 1990s a number of 507s ended up in store. Here’s 507010 at West Kirby on the 9th August 1999.

DG301944. 507013. Formby. 10.7.18crop

507013 leads a sister unit into Formby station on the Liverpool – Southport line en-route to Hunts Cross on the 10th July 2018

DG243732. 507014. Southport. 26.4.16crop

507014 approaches journeys end at Southport. This short section of line from Birkdale has four level crossings on it! Picture taken on the 26th April 2016.

DG05427. 507015. Southport. 11.2.06.crop

507015 stabled in the much reduced sidings at Southport on the 11th February 2006. In the past these had been used to store several of the class. They’re still used, but nowhere near as much as they used to be. In the 1970’s they’d have been full of EMUs at the weekend whilst the right-hand sidings would have been a mass of 1st generation DMUs.

DG11403. 507016. Chester. 18.7.07.crop

Passengers flood off 507016 at Chester on the 18th July 2007. This was another later addition to and expansion of the Merseyrail network. The 3rd rail arrived here in 1993.

11065. 507017. 507001. Birkenhead Central. 3.10.02.crop

Back in Arriva days on the 30th October 2002 507017 arrives at Birkenhead Central with a service from Chester. Stabled in the yard is 507001. By this date the shed was disused, hence the bushes growing up through the tracks.

DG109170. 507029. Hunts Cross. 19.4.12.crop

507029 is just about to arrive at the end of the line at Hunts Cross. This section of line was part of the Old Cheshire Lines network. The Merseyrail system was extended out here from Garston in 1983. Picture taken 19th April 2012.

DG19252. 507031. Ormskirk. 16.10.08.

507031 at the end of the Merseyrail network at Ormskirk on the 16th October 2008. Behind the train the line is severed by buffer stops but it continues on to Preston.

Class 508.

Here’s a selection of shots of the Class 508s on Merseyside, in store and working elsewhere.

7086. 508102. Stored. West Kirby. 9.8.99.crop

On the 9th August 1999 508102 (wearing Regional Railways branding)sits in store at West Kirby. In 2003 this was one of three units converted for use on the Watford DC lines. It was renumbered 508301. After being displaced by the Class 378s it was withdrawn and scrapped at Eastleigh in 2013.

DG275115. 508104. Liverpool Lime St. 28.6.17crop

508104 leaves Liverpool Limes ST down the single bore tunnel whilst working a Wirral line service on the 28th June 2017

05156. 508106. MOD Kineton. 29.7.95.crop

508106 in store at MOD Kineton on the 29th July 1995. In 1996 this unit found a new lease of life as 508203 and worked for South Eastern Trains in Kent until 2006 when it was stored once more. It was finally cut up at Eastleigh in 2013

05165. 508105. MOD Kineton. 29.7.95.crop

Also in store at MOD Kineton on the same date as the previous picture was 508105. This unit also went to SET and became 508202. It was scrapped at Eastleigh in 2013.

DG275064. 508139. Green Lanes. Birkenhead. 28.6.17crop

508139 leaves the subterranean station at Green Lane, Birkenhead, heading for Liverpool on the 28th June 2017

DG270280. 64664. Doncaster. 18.5.17crop

64664 in use as a translator vehicle for Arlington fleet services, seen at Doncaster on the 18th May 2017. This was originally 508116 before going to SET where it became 508207.

I’ll add more pictures tomorrow. In the meantime…

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Sowerby Bridge remembers.


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This morning around 150 people braved wet weather (unlike a certain American President) to see the unveiling of a memorial at Sowerby Bridge station to the 42 local men who had worked for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway and who never returned from the First World War. I’ll blog about this in detail later.


I’d like to thank Jim Milner from the Friends of Sowerby Bridge station for allowing me to use excerpts of his speech here. They give some valuable historical background on some of the men who are remembered on this memorial.


Jim Milner delivering his speech, parts of which are reproduced below.

“With regard to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, over 10,000 of their employees served and almost 1,500 died in service. This Memorial records the names of the 42 former employees of that Company who lost their lives, and who had been based at Sowerby Bridge, Greetland, Ripponden and Luddenden Foot.

Of those called up or enlisting, 9 of the men joined the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment, 5 the Prince of Wales’s Own West Yorkshire Regiment, 3 each the Lancashire Fusiliers, the King’s Royal Rifle Corps and the Northumberland Fusiliers, and 2 each the Royal Field Artillery, the Durham Light infantry, the Royal Engineers and the Royal Marine Light Infantry.

For those who embarked for France in the late summer and autumn of 1914, optimism was high. Many were told, and believed, that it would all be over by Christmas. But of course, that did not happen. The war would continue for another four years.
Sadly, for four of the men, it was all over by Christmas of that year. Thomas Barron, Arthur Goulden, Charles Pimblett and Samuel Rowe were early casualties of the War. Charles Pimblett had disembarked only 10 days earlier when he was killed in the Battle of Mons in Belgium on 24th August, 1914. He was the first Sowerby Bridge railwayman to lose his life.

During the course of the war, 36 of the men lost their lives in Northern France and Belgium. Most were involved in trench warfare. For much of the time there would have been little activity but, on occasions, they would have faced artillery bombardment, machine-gun fire, snipers and gas attacks. According to reports, two of the men were “accidentally killed”. Today we call it “friendly fire”. Eleven of the men, together with thousands of others, have no known grave.

Clarence Stott had briefly worked as a clerk at Ripponden Station. He served with the Royal Scots Fusiliers and died from wounds on 18th June 1915, following a bayonet charge by the enemy. At the time of his death Clarence was just 17 years old. He is the youngest of the men recorded here.

Walter Heaton had worked as a goods guard at Luddenden Foot. He served as a gunner with the Royal Field Artillery and sustained severe wounds from which he later died on 17th August, 1916. Walter was posthumously awarded the Military Medal for acts of gallantry and devotion to duty under fire.

Willie Hoyle enlisted with the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment but had transferred to the Sherwood Foresters when he died from gas poisoning in
a Casualty Clearing Station in France on 9th November 1918. This was just two days before the war ended.

Four of the men were further afield when they lost their lives.

George Page had worked as a labourer at Sowerby Bridge Engine Shed. He enlisted with the Hampshire Regiment and was killed in Salonika in December 1915. John Thompson had also worked at the Engine Shed, as a washer-out. He served with the Royal Marine Light Infantry and was killed in the trenches in Gallipoli in June 1915.

Harry Haigh had worked as an engine cleaner, and he also enlisted with the Royal Marine Light Infantry. He lied about his age in order to be accepted. Harry served on the battleship HMS Malaya and was killed in an explosion while supplying munitions to his gun during the Battle of Jutland, off the coast Denmark, on 31st May, 1916. He was killed just days after his eighteenth birthday. Harry Haigh was buried at sea.

Thomas Barron, a former ballastman, joined the Royal Navy as a stoker. He was lost while serving on the HMS Good Hope off the coast of Chile on 1st November 1914. The ship was attacked and sunk by the German battle cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau with the loss of all hands – Thomas Barron was just one of a total of 919 officers and enlisted men lost that day.

All 42 of these men had many things in common. They had all been employed locally by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. They all served King and Country at a time of war. Had they survived they would all have had stories to tell children and grandchildren. They were all brave men. They all made the ultimate sacrifice”

A sublime evening at the Moorcock Inn, Norland


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Last night we finally had the opportunity to sample the restaurant menu at the Moorcock Inn, Norland. We’re incredibly lucky to have this place so close to us and we walk up to the pub on a regular basis for a drink and chance to sample the bar menu, but until now, we’d never had the opportunity to sample the restaurant menu. As it’s our first wedding anniversary on Sunday we thought this would be a great start to the weekend. We weren’t disappointed. Here’s what was on the menu.


I couldn’t resist getting some pictures of the courses but as none of this was set up, these were the dishes as they came, so you’ll have to excuse the rushed nature of the shots – it was quick, get a picture and tuck in!


Bread (served with their home-made cultured butter) and the snacks, In the Foreground are sprouts in a Rosehip and Hogweed vinaigrette, ingredients that have been foraged. The sprouts were gorgeous and the dressing superb, reminiscent of a hoisin sauce but far lighter and less cloying.


Smoked Dogfish (sourced from Whitby on the Yorkshire coast and caught sustainably) with celery and horseradish.


Wood-roast pear and onion, sea herbs and walnut cider. A superb mixture of flavours and textures, salty, sweet and smoky.


Potato tart, plankton and chrysanthemum. This was a real surprise. There was an earthiness and variety of textures, from the layered potato to the crunchiness of the pastry base. – all perfectly balanced. Accompanying the tart was the fish seen below, which added yet another dimension. Aimee had done an excellent job in complimenting Alisdair’s amazing food with a range of drinks and served a NV Drie Fonteinen Geuze beer from Belgium. The sourness of the beer added yet another dimension to the dishes.



8 yr old Hebridean mutton, tomatillo and home-made feta cheese. Inside the lettuce leaf is braised mutton which had been cooked overnight in one of the smoke ovens at the rear of the pub. Dawn had never had mutton before and was blown away by the tenderness and taste.


One of the extras which I had all to myself as Dawn is allergic to cheese, so for me it’s a rare treat nowadays. I love veined cheeses and this Young Buck blue cheese from County Down was rich and full of flavour. It’s made from organic raw milk. It was served with wood-roast apple and soda bread. The balance of flavours, from the thick tangy creaminess of the cheese and the sweetness and smokiness of the apple, coupled with the texture of the soda break was a delight.


The meal was rounded off with Lavender ice cream with grapes and beetroot, served with sake from NV Kodakara Umeshu, Yamagata, Japan. The sake’s infused with plums and almonds, giving it a richness and roundness that makes it an ideal accompaniment to a dessert. Wow!

We had a wonderful evening and the food exceeded our expectations – which were already high after having eaten different items off the bar menu several times. Alisdair’s a wizard in combining tastes and textures to produce some unique and stunning food. His inventiveness is amazing. Couple that with Aimee’s talent in selecting just the right choice of wines, beers (or even sake) to accompany the food and a meal at the Moorcock’s a truly memorable experience. My wife’s no slouch when it comes to cooking (something we both enjoy doing) but Dawn was left in awe by what we had last night – and I have to agree. The food here is very, very special. We can’t wait until next time to see what the pair of them provide…

If you want to contact the Moorcock. Here’s links to their website and their Facebook page.

Rolling blog: foggy Friday!


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Yep, the working week’s ended as it began, with murky weather here in the Pennines. Today’s a bit of a mixture. I’ve been working at home editing pictures this morning. I’ve been playing catch-up with archive pictures as I realised that there were dozens of shots from a press trip to Germany in June that I hadn’t uploaded. Back then a group of us went to see Siemens in Germany as they’d arranged a preview of trains they would be displaying at the Innotrans trade fair later in the year. We were treated to a tour of the factory at Krefeld to see the Class 717s being built for the UK, the first Mireo being assembled, the production of Velaro’s for DB and also the Rhine-Ruhr Express units. We were also treated to the chance to travel on one of the RRX units which was at the Wildenrath test track. You can find all the pictures in this gallery on my Zenfolio website. Here’s a shot of the RRX on test.

DG298878. 462004. 462007. Wildenrath. Germany. 14.6.18crop

This afternoon I’m heading over to Huddersfield to visit ACoRP towers, then this evening Dawn and I are popping up to the fabulous Moorcock Inn for a meal. We’ve been wanting to try the restaurant menu there for ages. We’ve often had the delicious bar snacks but wanted to try the full dining experience as it’s had such rave reviews, like this one from Jay Rayner. As it’s our 1st wedding anniversary on Sunday, we thought this was an ideal time. Expect this blog to be updated throughout the day….


I left home later than expected to to having to sort out flight changes for our New Zealand trip (we now get an extra day!) and a press invite that could see me back in Germany next month. The walk to the station was a bit dreary due to the gloomy weather, as you can see from this shot I took on the way.

I’m now bouncing and screeching my way to Huddersfield. Not actually me you understand, just the Pacer I’m sat on!


Having caught up with some paperwork and reading at the ACORP office I’ve had a bit of a wander. Oh, by the way, the 2bd part of my round Britain by rail trip for RAIL magazine hit the newsagents shelves on Wednesday.

Whilst I was notching around Huddersfield I couldn’t resist popping into the wonderfully restored ‘Kings Head’ pub on the station.

The work has earned it an award – and deservedly so.


Tonight’s menu.


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‘Raab C Brexit’ didn’t understand the significance of Dover…



This country is deeply, deeply screwed. Here’s the man in charge of negotiating Brexit admitting that he didn’t understand the significance of Dover. Presumably the existence of the English Channel (which has been around for the past 10,000 years) was dismissed as ‘Project Fear’ by him and the other hardline Brexit supporters. Watch the car crash here.

This is the level of intellect and understanding we’re seeing from Brexit supporters. It would be bad enough if this was just some bloke on the street. It’s not, It’s a Government Minister for God’s sake. Can you imagine the laughter this is going to provoke on the other side of that stretch of water Raab was clearly unaware of the significance of? Or in capitals around the world. Brexit has made the UK a laughing stock and it’s time we woke up to that fact. English arrogance is going to be our undoing…