I HAD not expected my recent trip to Brussels, the capital of Belgium and headquarters of the European Union, to be marred by so many passer-bys criticising our Government’s stance on Brexit.

“But why come?” one teases. ”You’re all ready to go”. Another chides, “Of course the EU’s corrupt, but your government’s going about it all in the wrong way!”

Nevertheless, an unexpected sense of pride stirs as visit the site of the world famous Battle of Waterloo, a mere 10 miles south of the capital, where Wellington defeated Napoleon in 1815.

And in a true spirit of entente cordiale, I accompany a French family as we pay respect to the fallen of both nations.

If only all European friendships could be that simple and agreeable. The EU’s many problems and financial inefficiencies are well catalogued, but I still believe that we are all stronger together.

Perhaps I am biased because I can trace Belgian blood in my family from the 1840’s when distant relatives from Liege eventually settled in Bury.

Is it any wonder that I count down the days to March 29, the day that the United Kingdom is intending to leave the European Union, with regret?

After all, our bonds are deeper than we might want to admit.

John C Mather