Q&A with MSL’s EU Affairs Lead on the BREXIT
With a week to go before the landmark British referendum that on 23 June will call on national voters to decide for or against EU membership, we have asked Leonardo Sforza, managing director of the MSLGROUP office in Brussels and head of EU affairs at the firm, to share his views on and insights into an historic decision that will have far-reaching consequences well beyond the United Kingdom’s citizens and businesses.
What is the current state of mind among EU bureaucrats and diplomats in Brussels at the eve of the British referendum?
Leonardo Sforza : The horrific murder of British Labour MP Jo Cox in her constituency while campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU has stunned and saddened Brussels, as it has everybody that believes in democracy and rejects the hatred that has killed a peaceful and altruistic woman. Jo was well known in Brussels where she had worked as head of policy at the international charity Oxfam , and for former British Labour MEP Glenys Kinnock , before being elected to Westminster last year. Her murder should also be a source of reflection on the type of political debate that we wish for our democracies and for citizens’ engagement, putting a stop to the hate-filled and intolerant rhetoric in public speeches.
The fact that the attacker is suspected to belong to a far right nationalist party and screamed “Britain first” before the attack is likely to change the dynamics of the referendum campaign, which all party leaders have agreed to put on hold to honour Jo Cox’s memory.
Until this tragic murder, there has a complex mix of feelings, with the mood marked by denial, weariness and, particularly in these last few days, panic.