Since I made the video for Flandersnews two weeks ago, the UK has voted in the referendum held last Thursday to leave the EU, which is the result I wished for, despite not having the right to vote myself.
The campaign was unpleasant, with half-truths and insults coming from both sides, but I saw at first hand the physical efforts being made by the Leave campaign, with thousands of volunteers spending hours a day canvassing for support in their local areas.
The Remain campaign seemed to content itself with public statements from financial authorities, warning of the economic impact, but without addressing the real concerns of the electorate which were more focussed on sovereignty, border controls and the impact of immigration.
"The outcome is far from clear-cut"
The outcome is, however, far from clear-cut:
- The result is advisory and depends on endorsement by the British Parliament, and there are threats from certain MP's to block the decision in a vote in the House of Commons, which would lead to mass protests
- There is a growing movement calling for a second referendum, although this has been ruled out by the British government and would be a slap in the face for democracy
- The process by which the UK can leave the EU is complex, either through repealing the Treaty of Accession from 1973, or by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, something only the UK can do, and which would lead to a two-year period of negotiations with the EU
- Since Scotland voted, as a region, to Remain by a considerable majority there are calls for there to be a new referendum on Scottish independence, which would lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom
"Important for the Leave decision to be respected"
Much uncertainty is therefore dominating the situation, and there is a huge political fall-out in the UK with the resignation of Cameron and huge divisions in the Labour party which are likely to lead to the removal of Corbyn. The financial markets are also reacting to this uncertainty, although the falls forecast by the Remain campaign before the vote have not happened.
Over the next few months it will become clear what the strategy will be for the negotiations, but it is important for the Leave decision to be respected and for those who fought the strongest, in particular UKIP, to be involved at the highest level in determining the future relations of the UK with the EU.
"Single market access, but without free movement of people"
I, personally, would prefer a relationship with negotiated access to the single market for goods and services, but without the free movement of people, which is the biggest single concern to the British population, and the root cause of the discontent that led to the Leave vote.
I still firmly believe that the UK is better off out of the EU, which is oblivious to the dangers involved in forcing nation states together into an entity for which there is neither compatibility nor desire. The future of the UK lies in stronger, independent relations with the rest of the world.
Fran Cole started working for the European Commission in 1981, and was an interpreter for 25 years mainly in the European Parliament. Fran is now on pre-retirement and lives in Wallonia with his wife and six children. "Over the years, I've become increasingly eurosceptic."
To watch Fran's statement in the weeks before the Brexit vote, click on the video below