Heard in Europe

Thursday’s shock Brexit referendum in the UK immediately triggered reactions… and wild ideas.

Here is what was heard from a self-critical, British panel in Brussels over the weekend. This includes remarks by two former MEPs, who spoke off the record and were not exactly politically correct.


Many “Remain” campaigners seem to have difficulties accepting the referendum results. Here are a collection of sentences heard during the debate.

“No, the UK will not leave the EU”.

“This result does not reflect the considered view of the British people. Many were misled by lies or are just expressing anger and protest. Prejudice against EU fueled by decades of negative media and political commentary on the EU”.

“The vote was about regaining control: triggering the article 50 countdown and losing Scotland is the reverse. It may well never happen”

“Business circles will just not allow any UK government to take the UK out’.

“To trigger article 50, the PM needs a Brexit negotiation mandate. It cannot get it from this pro-Remain Parliament. And as for new elections… a Brexit result is not certain.”

“So, the UK is no more likely to trigger article 50 than any other Member State.”


Having the UK suffer severe consequences could limit the “infection” of populism, and also “educate” the British public, say British expats in Brussels.

”Brits acted like a spoiled child in front of mother Europe. We were treated too nicely. Now, we need redressing. We need to be put in the ‘naughty corner’, long enough to appreciate what we had with the EU. “

”We need to suffer, we deserve it! Other countries and the EU institutions need to treat us harshly. The bigots and racists will only learn the hard way. This is necessary to keep Europe together. We may re-join later.”

(observer’s comment: Europhile Brits are now schizophrenic, torn between their country and their Euro-beliefs. Will they add masochism to this illness?)


Expectations raised by Brexit campaigners cannot be fulfilled, which will only raise more anger and resentment. If Europe is peace, non-Europe is…what?

“I foresee the first bullets in a civil war.”

“We don’t need reforms, we need a revolution.”

“‘ca va’, people ask? Well: ‘ça ira, ça ira [les aristocrates à la lanterne]’” (Old French revolution song about hanging establishment people].

“Look at UK now: this will be the story for some other countries in the future. It will get worse.”

“It took the US a civil war to firm up their unity.”

(observer’s comment: Europe had at least two civil wars recently: WWI and WWII)

“Do we need a collapse of the EU before rebuilding it? May be. I hope not”.



Disregarding nearly half of the British public, and a majority in several big regions in the UK, is also not an option.

“One amazing thing about the campaign is that so many Brits have become positive about Europe – 16 million closet pro-Europeans finally ‘came out’.

“Given more time, they would have won the argument “

(observer’s comment: have they not had 40 years to speak up?).

“Please don’t abandon us! “

New political landscape?

As both the Conservative and the Labour Party failed and are in disarray, some politicians think of alternatives, for example a new party.

“Both main parties are disqualified. Some think of creating a centrist , pro-European party…No, not reviving the Lib-Dems, also pulling in moderates from both sides, plus new people…

“This could happen very quickly, before the next general elections.”

“The anger and fear wont be overcome by a new convention or compromise deal . Only evidence of listening and clearly communicated actions and results will count.

“We must hold Council to account with more transparency on who votes what.”

“London, like Scotland and Northern Ireland, should respect the wishes of their people and remain in the EU. England must resolve it’s ancient tribal faultlines”

“Petition number for a second referendum rising quickly (ca + 100 000 / hour)”

(observer’s comment 1: participative democracy undermines referendum undermines parliament, undermines technocracy, undermines monarchy. Where do we end? Riots undermine participative democracy?

Comment 2: At the time of writing, Sunday afternoon, the petition indicates 3.1 million supporters: the highest number ever. But the Parliament’s petition committee is investigating it for fraud, and the initiative advocates retro-active legislation: unthinkable. Unless there are new elements to vote about? See below)


For reactions to this article: Please tweet to @LeclercqEU

For other wild ideas on the referendum, check this political fiction, so far not proven wrong: Brexit 2018, half-full or half-empty?

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