Friday, October 30, 2020
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After Brexit, will we get Flexit and Wexit?

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THE possibility that Belgium could one day split into two independent states is in the spotlight again.

Talk of a separation between Flanders, the Dutch-speaking north of the country, and Wallonia, the French-speaking south, has intensified following the formation of a controversial new coalition government, according to the BBC’s  Kevin Connolly. 

The Flemings and Walloons have been at loggerheads over their different language, culture, religion and identity ever since Belgium broke away from the Netherlands in 1830, to be recognised nine years later by the European great powers as a state, with Britain providing vital impetus. 

The guarantee of Belgium’s independence and neutrality given in the 1839 Treaty of London was why Britain went to war with Germany in 1914 after the Kaiser’s armies invaded Belgium.

Today, the Belgian capital, Brussels (liberated from the Germans by the British in 1944), is the epicentre of the European Union – which right now is engaged in a bitter battle to effectively stop Britain regaining its full independence via Brexit. Belgium’s own separatist turmoil rumbles on in parallel.

So what if Flanders and Wallonia were to become independent? It throws up some intriguing possibilities. For instance, say both states decided to leave the EU … Flexit and Wexit.

In that case, things would get so complicated they’d make the current Brexit negotiations look like a parish council meeting. One of the most fascinating questions would be what would happen to Brussels – officially a bilingual federal region of Belgium, but geographically in Flanders.

Could the capital of the EU leave the EU? What a thought! You can be sure the Eurocracy would fight tooth and nail to hold on to their ivory tower. But if it did happen, ‘delicious irony’ would not even begin to describe it. 

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Henry Getley
Henry Getley is a freelance journalist.

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