While the rest of Britain was celebrating the royal bank holiday, I went to the EU Parliament in Brussels for a meeting organised by the GUE/NGL - ‘the Left in the European Parliament’.
It’s been a hot few days. Clammy fingers, stuffy corridors.
I had already briefly visited the European Parliament a few years ago. This would be the first time I got to sit in one of the halls with the interpreters all around, translating everything in real time.
Someone came down and asked me to speak more slowly. I became very self conscious of my tendency to speak faster when I’m nervous, it’s tricky to keep pace while making a contribution.
The square in front of the parliament building was covered in these banners for the ‘Conference on the Future of Europe’. Selling the myth of participation in neoliberal institutions. The future is in your hands, but your hands are tied by the treaties.
Several people asked me about Brexit, and on reflection I haven’t had to think about it in months. Britain officially pulled out of a free-market trade agreement, the sky didn’t fall on our heads, and two years later the EU is no longer at the forefront of public debate.
Then I get to appreciate the perspective from inside - many progressive movements in other countries are still forced to negotiate democratic challenges ‘within the EU framework’.
On my way back through the city, I caught the bells of the cathedral ringing out 4pm.
That was really the full extent of my sightseeing. I’ve got the rest of the afternoon in the city, but in no hurry to get back to Leicester.