This series is being run by a young Brit who lived in Belgium for 19 years and now resides in Cardiff, known on theSprout as Ironfoot. The aim? To inform and involve other young people in this once-in-a-generation debate from many important and interesting perspectives.
The EU referendum is in less than a month and will decide the future fate for Britain on its European Union Membership, with team Brexit (British Exit) wanting to leave the EU and team Bremain (Pro–EU) wishing to stay. With less than two weeks to go, there are still a lot of questions to be answered, especially around British expats, employment, businesses and the economy.
This article is the first interview of my trip to Brussels (capital of Belgium), where I interviewed British expats about if they are affected by the EU Referendum and what their personal views are.
The interview with Professor Martin Westlake took place on a weekday morning at a brasserie next to the European Commission in the so-called “European quarter” of Brussels.
Professor Westlake worked in European government and politics for over 30 years, including spells in both major European organisations; the Council of Europe and the European Union. He has worked in or with various EU Institutions, including the Council of Ministers, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee (where he served as Secretary-General, 2008-2013). He is now a visiting professor at the College of Europe in Bruges, where he runs a research seminar on ‘The European Union: Political, Institutional and Constitutional Reform’, and is a senior visiting fellow at the European Institute of the London School of Economics.
He has published widely on the European institutions and on European and British politics. He is also the author of a major political biography of the former leader of the British Labour Party, Neil Kinnock (Kinnock, The Biography).
During the interview, Professor Westlake spoke about the beginnings of his career in the European institutions, his academic activities, the challenge of writing the Kinnock biography (“iIt nearly killed me because, in the beginning, I thought of it as a fairly lightweight book… But I realised I needed to do Neil – whom I’d come to admire – justice, so it turned into a heavyweight biography… I wrote the thing basically from 11 at night to three or four in the morning and it took me several years to do it, so you can imagine the rings under my eyes.”). He then explained about his work as a visiting professor at the College of Europe in Bruges, where he runs the research seminar on ‘The European Union: Political, Institutional and Constitutional Reform’.
The conversation continued with a discussion about the referendum, the debate on whether all British expatriates (including those who have lived abroad for more than fifteen years) should have the right to vote, and the importance for everybody – but particularly young people – to register and vote. (“Remember; the younger you are, the longer you are going to have to live with the consequences of this referendum.”)
Disclaimer: Prof Martin Westlake was speaking in a personal capacity and as an academic. His views do not commit any organisation or institution.
(If you wish to listen to the full interview, please listen to the podcast).
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