Brexit has divided opinion for years and will continue to do so, in spite of Prime Minister Boris Johnson taking Britain out of the EU on January 31. Tensions were arguably at their highest in the days preceding the 2016 referendum as the country appeared to come to a standstill over the most significant vote in a generation. Among the Remain campaign’s numerous celebrity endorsements was one from David and Victoria Beckham.
And the former England captain risked a backlash as he suggested Britain’s EU membership contributed to his sporting success.
Drawing on his experience on the football pitch, he said the heart of Manchester United’s title-winning teams of the Nineties may have been English but they would not have achieved so much without the input of players from elsewhere in Europe.
He wrote on Facebook: “Now that team might have gone on to win trophies but we were a better and more successful team because of a Danish goalkeeper, Peter Schmeichel, the leadership of an Irishman Roy Keane and the skill of a Frenchman in Eric Cantona.
“I was also privileged to play and live in Madrid, Milan and Paris with teammates from all around Europe and the world.
“Those great European cities and their passionate fans welcomed me and my family and gave us the opportunity to enjoy their unique and inspiring cultures and people.
“For our children and their children we should be facing the problems of the world together and not alone.
“For these reasons I am voting to Remain.”
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In response, Leave campaigner Michael Gove told the BBC it had the support of former England internationals Sol Campbell and John Barnes.
After the UK left the EU earlier this year, the country is currently in a period of transition amid negotiations with the bloc.
Trade talks appear to have stalled, though, plunging the UK and EU’s future relationship into doubt.
In a statement last week, an EU spokesperson said: “We are working hard to overcome the significant divergences that remain between us.
“We are working towards an agreement.”
Brexit negotiations have stalled in recent months over two key issues – fisheries and regulatory alignment.
Mr Johnson wants to fulfil a Leave campaign promise that the UK will take back control of its waters.
But Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, has warned Mr Johnson he cannot secure access to European markets without allowing EU vessels into UK waters.