An hour of regret has arrived in a pro-Brexit stronghold – EURACTIV.com
The town of Grace, located about thirty kilometers east of London, voted in favor of Brexit. Three years after Britain left the European Union, in the midst of a social crisis, some are expressing regret.
“I voted for Brexit, but I regret it”: 42-year-old Maria Yvars feels cheated by politicians. “They didn’t give us all the elements. (…) They sold us something we didn’t have”takes this psychologist.
“Now this country is like a boat without a captain”he says that in 2022, three prime ministers replaced each other at the head of the Conservative government.
In the June 2016 referendum, 72.3% of voters voted for Brexit in the local constituency of Thurrock, Grace’s largest city with a population of around 75,000, compared to 52% across the UK.
It is the fourth-highest vote in the country to leave the EU, which took effect on January 31, 2020, after 382 years of political chaos.
Europhobe and populist Nigel Farage was not wrong: it was from Thurrock that he released his anti-EU manifesto in April 2015.
Thurrock is an old industrial area on the estuary of the River Thames which attracts many migrants from Eastern Europe. The constituency covers Tilbury, one of the country’s main container ports. AFP went there to report in 2017: The Brexiteers were unrepentant afterwards.
This is a region that has suffered for years, and the current social crisis, with inflation over 10%, makes the situation worse. The local authority went bankrupt in December after a series of disastrous investments.
The pedestrianized street in the center of Grace has a number of discount shops promising items for a pound, while others buy back brands of gold, appliances and even sports betting. An abandoned storefront reads “Closed forever.”
“Yes, I voted for Brexit and I regret it”– says a woman in her fifties who wishes to remain anonymous. “Look at the country, it’s a disaster, isn’t it? ». He says many people he knows regret voting as he did.
Relatives who boasted about voting for Brexit now “embarrassed”and even “embarrassed”Maria Yvars assures.
Support for Brexit is at an all-time low, according to a YouGov poll in November. Less than a third of Britons believe it is a good decision. One in five Brexiteers has changed their mind.
In Grays, many of the passers-by whom AFP tried to interview walked away at the word “Brexit” pronunciation, perhaps from fatigue. ” No interesting “he replied most politely.
“What did the Brexiteers expect? », He wants to stay with the NHS, a public and free health system employee. “We lost EU funds! »
Saving the NHS was part of the Brexit promises. “We send 350 million pounds a week to the EU. Let’s fund the NHS instead,’ read the red buses. But the health system has weakened and nurses began a historic strike in December.
The situation “terrible”
But not all of them regret their choice. Elaine Read, 73, who works in finance in London, will vote again “Probably Brexit.”
“I already voted against membership in 1975” To Europe, he says. “We are an island, we are isolationists. With the EU, I got the impression that we are no longer in control.”
With the Covid-19 pandemic and then the war in Ukraine, “So much has happened that we haven’t had a chance to see the benefits” About Brexit. Undoubtedly for him: “The housing crisis is not about Brexit”.
The UK is the only G7 country that has not yet returned to pre-pandemic Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Despite the free trade deal with the EU, the government’s budget forecasting body OBR estimates that leaving the EU would reduce the size of the UK economy by around 4% in the long term.
Ex-docker Ray Yates, 70, admits the situation in Thurrock is “terrible” but he still believes strongly in Brexit. “I still support Brexit, but it will take time. At least ten years and a new government.”