'I feel like a child in a messy divorce'

'I feel like a child in a messy divorce'
By Méabh Mc Mahon
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In this report, we speak to Brussels based Britons to see how they feel about the UK withdrawal agreement with the EU.


Around 25,000 Britons live in Brussels. Rosalind Lester is one of them. During a work-out at her local gym, she tells Euronews how she feels like a child in a messy divorce. Like many Brussels based Brits, Rosalind was brought up in Belgium, speaks the two official languages, and is proud of her British roots. But even though her mum hopes Brexit wont happen, she is not taking any chances and has applied for Belgian nationality so she can continue to travel and work around the EU.

"When the Brexit was announced two years ago, I was quite devastated, I just feel like a child in messy divorce because as I felt like I would have to choose between two identities to that are important to me", she says.

EU watcher Dennis Abbot feels the same. The bubbly Brit tells me he has served his country and his Queen, but he has also worked for the EU institutions during his 18 years in Belgium. He started his career as a tabloid journalist and tells me back then he thought all EU officials were nuts but since working there realised that they have the interests of Europe as a continent at heart and even though the EU is not perfect, it is better to stay in it than 'excommunicating yourself'.

'Gone are the days of the superpowers', he says adding that in 2018, the UK needs to learn how to work in a team. Despite the recent progress in negotiations, Dennis Abbot seceretly hopes the UK wont leave the EU.

"The deal she has got now is the best she can hope for. But actually, it is a crap deal, everyone knows it is a crap deal. So do we want to say yes to a crap deal when there is a better alternative less bad opportunity out there... stay and try to sort this out from the inside instead of excommunicating yourself."

Byrn Watkins is a young communications expert who works in the city centre of Brussels. The convinced European tells me how he is not leaving his fate in the hands of politicians.

"My plan in life is that I am going to become Belgian. I live and work in Belgium and pay my taxes here and that is the only sensible route out of this that I can see. No agreement, no deal, no right to remain in Belgium will guarantee me in the long term what I want, especially if I ever want to what to move to another European country. I just have to stay here a few more years and then I will be an EU citizen again. But no, my life will never be the same again after this. It has changed a lot of stuff."

Another man who is annoyed by Brexit is Robert Francis. The director of Grayling has no time to mourn. Brexit is keeping him busy and he even picked up award this month at the EU public affairs awards for offering the best advice to industry to help them prepare for Brexit.

"Since August, our organisation has been inundated and so I think that basically shows that now industry is getting very upset and concerned and there is no certainty, business is having to organize itself now but doesn’t have any idea of perspective further," says Robert continuing, "it is our job to be helping companies to identify opportunities also from Brexit, there are opportunities out there. So it is our job to be helping organizations actually properly understand the impact of them but also all of those opportunities."

I ask Robert if he can put me in touch with people in Brussels who voted in favour of Brexit but he admits that would be challenging.

"I don’t know anyone here who does think Brexit is a good thing", he says, adding that Brussels was a bubble.

"MEPs themselves, even the MEPs who think that indeed it is a good thing, in fact they are concerned as they don’t have employment after this and are asking us to work as advisers".

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