As part of a major information campaign urging UK nationals living in and travelling to the EU to get ready for the country’s withdrawal from the bloc, the British government on 23 October unveiled a Brexit transport information point in Jabbeke, the Flemish Region of Belgium, also known as Flanders.
The official account of the British Embassy in Belgium enthusiastically tweeted that staff were on standby “ready & happy to provide information to hauliers and businesses to help them to get ready for Brexit”.
First #Brexit Transport Information Point in Belgium opened this morning in the Total service station in @gemeentejabbeke. More are opening over the next few days. Staff are ready & happy to provide information to hauliers and businesses to help them to get ready for Brexit 🇬🇧🇧🇪 pic.twitter.com/Na9Vx8gLHR— UK in Belgium🇬🇧🇧🇪 (@UKinBelgium) October 23, 2019
In what was sarcastically applauded as “yet another great bit of British diplomacy” by social media users, there was something blatantly wrong in the picture: the language.
The sign at the Total service station reads “Soyez Pret pour le Brexit” which roughly translates to “Get Ready for Brexit” and is essentially similar to the costly advertising campaign that has swamped Britain in recent weeks.
The problem is that this sign is in French.
Wake up call: people of this particular region don't speak French!
The residents of the region speak Flemish and it doesn't take an expert to realise that the sign would not go down well with the locals.
Predictably, the Twitter folks swooped in on this rather colossal mess-up by the government.
Shouldn't that be in Flemish? I mean, the clue is in the name fcs.— LGConnolly🇪🇺#RevokeArticle50 #FBPE (@connolly_lg) October 25, 2019
The Flemish will be dead impressed with the sign in French. Yet another great bit of British diplomacy! Cretins!— MrCole (@mattjacole) October 25, 2019
I’m just surprised it’s not in English but slower and louder tbh— Tim Weaver #FBPE 🔶 🌿🇪🇺🇬🇧🇵🇱🖤🕷 (@Timcweav) October 25, 2019
You probably need a sharpie to fix that date.— Bruce McPherson (@brucemcpherson) October 25, 2019
Are you aware that Jabbeke is in Belgian Flanders?— andy stewart #RevokeA50#Collaborator (@andy_astewart) October 25, 2019
Are you aware that the language in Flanders is Flemish?
Are you aware Brexit has been postponed?
Happy to assist our Diplomatic effort.
Can I buy the tabard off you? It will be a collectors item soon.— Skarloey (@skarloey) October 25, 2019
What a complete farce.— Lizziebbbb (@Lizziebbbb) October 25, 2019
I work in several EU27 countries and don't even admit to being British any more it's so embarrassing. We've turned ourselves into a laughing stock. Cool Britannia -> Fool Britannia.
The British Embassy in Belgium has not yet offered an official comment.