WHETHER they were banning curvy cucumbers, renaming bars of chocolate, straightening our bananas or renegotiating British fishing rights, in Andrew Spence's view the European Union could not do much right.

Mr Spence, a farmer and haulier from Leadgate, near Consett, felt so strongly that he stood as the UK Independence Party candidate against Tony Blair at the last General Election.

So it came as something of a surprise when Mr Spence said that he was quitting Britain - for France.

Mr Spence was at the centre of the nationwide fuel protests, which nearly brought the country to its knees in 2000. With the price of fuel edging higher again, he has decided enough is enough.

Mr Spence is in the process of selling the last truck in his haulage fleet. He said: "We are paying money now just to get out of bed. We have looked at a farm in France where things are cheaper. The cost of fuel here has crippled us."