Cameron Messed Up, Says Luxembourg Minister

asselborn.dpa.Julien Warnand
Luxembourg's Foreign Affairs Minister Jean Asselborn isn't mincing his words.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    A British vote in favor of leaving the European Union would be catastrophic, Mr. Asselborn says. Still, the European Union would not offer the option of letting the UK come crawling back.

  • Facts


    • Roughly 2.3 million UK jobs depend on British exports to the European Union, while 55 percent of imports in Great Britain come from the 28-nation bloc.
    • Aside from debate surrounding whether staying in European Union is economically beneficial for the UK, the main issue for many voters has become immigration.
    • Renegotiations following a vote for Brexit are not an option, said Mr. Asselborn.
  • Audio


  • Pdf

As the longest-serving foreign affairs minister in the European Union, Luxembourg’s Jean Asselborn, 67, is an old hand in European politics. He got his start in politics in the trade union movement and today is a member of the Socialist Workers’ Party. From 2004 to 2013 he was also deputy prime minister under former Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who is currently president of the European Commission.

In an interview with Handelsblatt, Mr. Asselborn weighed in on the upcoming Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom. If British voters choose to leave the European Union on June 23, the transition will not only be rough, but also irreversible, he said.


Mr. Asselborn, will English remain the dominant language in Brussels if the British vote in favor of a Brexit in the referendum on Thursday?

The former British foreign minister, Jack Straw, told me in the 1990s that he once tried to learn French in Brussels so he could understand what was going on. But he no longer needs to do that because, with the eastward expansion of the European Union, English has become the dominant language in Brussels. It will remain that way, no matter how the referendum turns out.

Want to keep reading?

Subscribe now or log in to read our coverage of Europe’s leading economy.