Covid rules began to ease, and the chatty dinner-party circuit within the Brussels elite began sprouting back to life. Over the finest wines and hors d’oeuvres, the diplomats, power brokers and lobbyists talked about everything – everything, that is, except for the one subject that had been at the top of the city’s agenda for years, but now was barely discussed: the United Kingdom, which has set off on its own perilous path in the aftermath of a Brexit that is causing food and fuel shortages.
“The Europeans are moving on,” says Rosa Balfour, Brussels-based Europe director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “The curiosity towards British politics that grew around the referendum and in the years after is now beginning to wane. The UK is not high on the agenda.”