John Marshall (UK Ambassador to Luxembourg):
Links between Luxembourg and UK are very deep and strong. John Marshall, British Ambassador in Luxembourg, assesses this relationship in the context of Brexit.
Historically, what are the links between UK and Luxembourg?
I have been exploring this question in depth since my arrival. Speaking of contemporary relations, most people would think of financial services, but there are strong people to people links too, e.g large numbers of Luxembourg students who study in the UK. Historically people think about World War 2 when the then exiled Grand Duchess Charlotte broadcast from the BBC encouragements to the Luxembourg people. Many people are aware too of the graves of Royal Air Force crews whose planes crashed in the Grand Duchy, including when trying to stem the advance of Nazis forces on May 10th 1940. Soon after my arrival, I began researching and tweeting about the history of both countries on #LuxUKLinks. I turned 60 of these illustrated tweets into an exhibition, which launched in May and is currently on tour in Luxembourgish communes, museums and schools. One of my favourite links also relates to the Second World War but is much less well-known. “Enrolés forcés” from Luxembourg working in a German research facility at Peenemünde realised the Germans were developing a flying bomb and passed information via the Luxembourg resistance to British intelligence services. A subsequent RAF bombing raid slowed down the development of this rocket program. But there are fascinating links across many centuries. You can read them at #LuxUKLinks.
“I researched and tweeted about the history of both countries on #LuxUKLinks”
How is Brexit impacting the relations between Luxembourg and the United Kingdom?
I don’t think it is impacting the relations in any significant sense as the dialogue between governments is good and, in the private sector, business continues. The British community find Luxembourg as welcoming as ever. But most British people living here were upset with the outcome of our Referendum, as they have strong emotional connections with the EU. And, on a practical level, they understandably find the uncertainty about their future unsettling, even though the UK, the European Commission and EU 27 have made it clear that citizens’ rights is a top priority and that we need a quick agreement. Over 6000 British citizens are living in Luxembourg. They live their lives across borders, and they feel that could come to an end if the Commission does not guarantee their existing cross-border rights. So the situation is particularly hard for them.
How are companies already dealing with the possible consequences of Brexit in Luxembourg and UK?
The Financial industry is important for us and for Luxembourg. It is natural that companies try to see how they could continue to deliver services to their clients. All companies are making contingency plans. Some are anticipating that UK companies will no longer have passporting rights and so are establishing or developing a presence here. It is difficult because they don’t know what shape the future will take. Which is why we are keen to start talks on our future partnership and to agree an implementation phase, thereby removing much of the uncertainty for business, as soon as possible after the December European Council.
What are your favourite places in Luxembourg?
Too many to mention! I’ve seen a lot of the country, having run through all 105 communes. I did this in 35 runs, averaging 20 to 25 kilometres each, always starting a new run where the previous one ended. I particularly enjoyed running through the north of the country, which was deep in snow, in January.