The former MEP and anti-EU campaigner Nigel Farage reportedly taunted his German wife by singing the popular football terraces ditty, “Two World Wars and one World Cup…” during a televised game. He was expressing an emotion apparently shared by many Britons who voted to leave the EU in 2016. Britain voted by 52-48 percent to leave the European Union following a promise made by then PM David Cameron, seen at the time as a concession to anti-EU Tory backbenchers. A year after the vote, a general election designed to give the governing Conservatives a stronger majority, left the party weakened, without a workable majority, which in turn led to parliamentary stalemate. This was finally resolved by another election in December 2019, which gave new PM Boris Johnson a majority of 80 seats – and the power to push Brexit through. Popular opinion has it that the ranks of the Leave Campaign included many who attend professional football games in the UK. But did the fans give any consideration to the future health of “the best league in the world” – the English Premier League – when they cast their votes in the referendum? The robust patriotism that was harnessed by a number of those leading the Leave Campaign was vigorously displayed when English football supporters gave vent to some ripe anti-EU chanting during clashes with riot police before the game with France in Marseilles in the Euros that year. There is an obvious paradox – while demonstrating anti-European sentiment, the same fans glorify the many European players who play in Britain’s domestic leagues. And these players are the very people who may be disadvantaged by Brexit. Unlike some supporters, the owners of the 20 Premier League clubs at the time of the referendum, threw their weight unanimously behind the Remain campaign. Any tightening of regulations regarding the movement of people would throw up barriers to lucrative transfers between British and European clubs. Though the eventual outcome of current (2020) talks between the UK and EU on future arrangements are yet to become clear, the clubs are worried by continued uncertainty and the possibility of an eventual hard Brexit outcome.

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Project Fear

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Border Trouble

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