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‘I was brought up European’: Tearful Brits mourn Brexit in Brussels

As midnight approached in Brussels there was a very different mood around the parliament compared to the scenes of jubilation in Westminster.

The Union flag had already been lowered outside the building where the leader of the Brexit Party, Nigel Farage, had given what amounted to a victory speech after MEPs backed the Withdrawal Agreement earlier this week.

Across the road candles flickered as a group gathered to “mourn” Brexit.

There were tears and emotional words as Briton after Briton spoke about how they felt.

One elderly man who had travelled to Brussels said: “I couldn’t bear to stay in the UK tonight.”


A British woman told the small crowd: “My father fought in two world wars and he brought me up to be a European.”

A Belgian told people: “My heart is breaking to see this happening.”

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At the gathering we met Londoner Blaise Baquiche, draped in a European Union flag and a sticker with the colourful phrase coined by the Liberal Democrats “B******* to Brexit”.

He currently works in Brussels but now really doesn’t know what to do.

He told me: “I have some really big decisions to make. I work in the private sector now but I have a feeling post next week Brussels might be a sombre place to live and work.”

“Things Can Only Get Better” by D:Ream blasted out from a bar across the road.

And that’s what the crowd at the “We’ll Be Back” party say they’re hoping for.

Many in the pub on a stretch of road where Mr Farage could often be found enjoying a pint, lost their jobs at the stroke of midnight.

Image: EU Council staff took down the Union Flag inside the parliament building in Brussels

One was Alex White who showed me his European Parliament pass where the expiry date said 31/01/2020.

He can still use it over the weekend but his job as an MEP’s assistant is done.

He told me he feels devastated and sad especially for the generation following him who will no longer enjoy the full freedoms he has. But he believes the young will bring the UK back to the EU.

“One day,” he tells me.

“I think if you look at the demographic, young people don’t want Brexit. And every year there are more young people. So yeah, I think we will be back one day.”

Image: Blaise Baquiche, from London, works in Brussels but is unsure of his future

Mr White had helped arrange the “We’ll Be Back” gathering and plenty of Brits had joined him at the bar in the heart of the city many had called home for years.

Union and EU flags were hung around the walls along with a few colourful statements against Brexit.

As midnight arrived (11pm UK time) the music paused and violinists played Ode To Joy – the European Anthem.

It’s a piece which is so often played in the heart of the parliament, where there is no longer any British representation.

And that is an obvious source of sadness for so many in Brussels.

We did meet a handful who saw Brexit as a good thing including a Greek man who wished his country had gone the same way.

But it was those who opposed the UK’s exit who turned out to comfort each other as the moment arrived.

And many of them will be packing their cases and heading back to the UK in the coming days.


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