London Q&A: Brits on Brexit

By Stuart Liess, Epoch Times
January 29, 2019 Updated: January 29, 2019

LONDON—The United Kingdom has been in a state of political turmoil ever since the 2016 referendum in which Brits voted to separate from the European Union. After nearly two years, time is running out for Britain as it heads towards the Brexit deadline of March 29.

The Epoch Times went on the streets of London to ask the British public their thoughts.

Kamil Franczak in London on Jan. 23, 2019. (Stuart Liess/The Epoch Times)

Kamil Franczak, 29, actor, from Poland

I’m sad about Brexit because I love London and I love British people, I visit all the time. I’m from the European Union. I don’t know what’s going to happen, maybe something will be better, but for now, it will be a sad day when Britain leaves.

I’m worried about [Prime Minister] Theresa May because she has a really tough task right now. She’s doing her best. No one can make a resolution that suits everyone.

I have friends here, a lot from Poland. Mostly, from what I know, they are not happy about leaving the European Union, but I have friends in northern England and they’re the opposite, so it’s a divide.

For now, I can visit London anytime I want and I would like it to stay like that. I don’t think it will happen because we have so much friendship here. I would like the UK to remain in the European Union, that would be my dream.

Ian Webb in London on Jan. 23, 2019. (Stuart Liess/The Epoch Times)

Ian Webb, 68, inventor

The public have been ill-informed. They haven’t been provided with enough information to have made the right decision in the first place.

I voted to remain: I’m pro-European. I think they definitely should have a second referendum. I don’t think that insults people who voted to leave. All you’re doing is asking them that if they still feel the same way, then just vote again and everyone will be better informed.

From someone who has come from a background of research, the more information you can gather before you make a decision, the better.

My son is a strong Brexiteer and my stepson’s girlfriend is a strong remainer: poles apart. Fortunately, they don’t meet too often.

Nick Jeal in London on Jan. 23, 2019. (Stuart Liess/The Epoch Times)

Nick Jeal, 54, logistics manager

I voted “remain” because I knew it would be too much carnage to come out of it. I’ve been proved to be right but I still can’t see a way out. So I think we should either get out or stay in. Deliberating between the two is not going to work.

As far as whether it’s right to have a second referendum, my heart says yes because that, in its way, is a democratic feeling. We’re not sure, so let’s go and put it to the people. But my head absolutely says no, we have the vote, 17 million people said to come out and that’s it. Otherwise, it just goes on and on. The truth is, 45 years in it, how are you going to get out of it? It’s too complex. I think we need to stay in, purely because of that, but we can’t because we voted to come out. There’s the conundrum.

I go to France a lot and it’s cost me a lot of money since the pound collapsed. I got married in France last year, and also I’m in the logistics business and a lot more customers are very nervous. I’m also looking to move and there’s a lot of trepidation there.

Mark Gabriele in London on Jan. 23, 2019. (Stuart Liess/The Epoch Times)

Mark Gabriele, 53, business owner

I would like us to leave. I operate in the UK and France.

I don’t have concerns at all if there was a hard Brexit. Having dealt with Europe over the last 30 years, I find Europe needs the UK as much as we need Europe. They might seem hard and forceful, but at the last hour, they’ll give in. They’ll come up with a solution, they always do. They need us because we buy a lot from Europe and we sell a lot to Europe.

If you say to the French farmers, for instance, ‘Britain is not buying your milk or your cheese,’ the French will go crazy; already they’re protesting.

Imagine saying to the German carmakers, ‘Britain’s not going to be buying your cars anymore or there’ll be another tax on them.’

I totally disagree with a second referendum. You can’t keep changing your mind, rightly or wrongly. We made a decision, stick to it and that’s it, we leave. Don’t forget in two or three years time, we can always go back in. The European Union is saying we’re leaving the door open for you. Of course, they have to make it as hard as possible: Italy’s on the brink. They’ve already said if there is no deal on the table with UK, then they’re going to go bankrupt because they need to deal with us.

We buy cars, fruit, vegetables, cheeses, suits, loads of things from Italy, so imagine the Italians not selling to us. They talk about dealing with China and all these other markets. Of course, there are loads of markets, but it’s alright talking about it …it’s another job doing it.

My family all feel the same. We’re all entrepreneurs, we’ve always traded and we deal with Europeans and we know what Europeans are like. I don’t see what everyone’s panicking about.

Ben Muis in London on Jan. 23, 2019. (Stuart Liess/The Epoch Times)

Ben Muis, 48, fashion and sports consultant

I think it depends on what we do with it. If we take the opportunity to build bridges with other countries, then it could be a good thing. But if we don’t, then we’re restricting ourselves.

I probably would have voted “leave,” but I wasn’t allowed to vote. I’m from the Netherlands, so I wasn’t on the list, but I’ve lived here for 22 years. I work with British brands, so I look at it as an opportunity because, generally speaking, our growth markets are not in the EU.

People look at it and say, “Brand Britain” is worth a lot more than “Brand Europe.” The British brand has much more appeal globally than the European brand. If we do something with that, then it could be a good thing.

Jeremy Stevens (R) in London on Jan. 23, 2019. (Stuart Liess/The Epoch Times)

Jeremy Stevens, 45, software engineer

We voted to leave, so I don’t need a second referendum, I don’t need Theresa May to falter, we need to leave with no deal.

Antonia Senior in London on Jan. 23, 2019. (Stuart Liess/The Epoch Times)

Antonia Senior, 42, writer

I voted to remain. I don’t think the leavers of my family were expecting a leave vote. I think they were all quite surprised, like it was more of a process vote that went wrong. But I’m more of a skeptic about Europe than most of my remainer friends, so when we have conversations, I’m quite often the one pulling the leave case. I’m intellectually inconsistent like most people on the subject; in fact, I’m utterly incoherent on the subject, like all Brits. We’re completely flummoxed, we just want it to go away.

Carl Worges in London on Jan. 23, 2019. (Stuart Liess/The Epoch Times)

Carl Worges, 69, electrical and mechanical engineer

It’s altogether a mess. I personally voted to remain; it’s going to cost our grandchildren and my youngsters a fortune, because it’s going to be a legacy which is going to be unbelievable historically.

I feel we should have a second referendum because in the first one, an awful lot of lies were told and people didn’t vote with their heads, they voted with what they were told.

On a personal note, I’ve been married for 25 years to a German woman. All of a sudden, she’s having a hardship to get a British passport. The red tape is horrendous, so we’re a bit in limbo, but we’ll see what happens.

All interviews have been edited for clarity and brevity

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