The Brexit Discussion
Pravda.Ru staff Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey presents the discussions he had with citizens of the UK covering the main points of view on Brexit. Incredible reading.
I spent three weeks in the United Kingdom recently, wandering around the cities and the countryside asking people for their opinion on Brexit. I have tried to be fair and present a balance of what I perceived were the main points of view, transcribing what I recorded, keeping the grammar as it was presented but trying to place the dialects and accents into readable English spelling. Let us read them together and try to reach a conclusion. The question was, simply, "Would you like to share your views on Brexit?"
Middle-aged lady, anonymous, London
"This is a Russian outfit, right? Well I don't want me name in it, they might come after me. Put "anonymous", OK? Right well I feel we need to take our country back!"
Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey (TBH): From what?
Interviewee (INT): From them Continentals. We should have our own laws and rules here, who won the war anyway? We won it now we have them frogs an' Krauts ruling over us...It ain't right, know what I mean?"
TBH: Pardon me, Madam, but what is "Frogs and Krauts"? "Kraut" means "cabbage" in German doesn't it?
INT: No, it don't. "Krauts" means Germans an' "Frogs" means "French", 'coz they eats frogs' legs. Nobody eats that crap 'ere, so why should we be in the Common Market?"
Jason Williams, Guildford, Surrey, Civil Engineer
"It's all about taking back our country, our laws and our borders. As it stands today, Brussels tells us what we can and cannot do and who we must receive. A qualified worker from Portugal, or Germany, or Spain for example, is welcome. A qualified Romanian too. However, look at those people over there. They are Romanian beggars. They invade people's houses, they burgle, they beg, and they urinate on the streets. Why should we have people like that here?"
John Bennet, Lewis, Sussex, Teacher (secondary school)
"Well, I didn't vote for Brexit and I don't know anyone who did, to be honest. This is 2018, not 1950. I see the desperation and outrage in my students, feeling they have been bequeathed a ridiculous legacy by the elderly who will not be here to see the dire consequences of the irresponsible decision that they made".
Mary Jenkins, Norwich, Norfolk, Housewife.
"I most certainly did not vote for Brexit and those that did want their brains tested. I blame that Cameron, taking a political gamble to boost his electorate. He promised to deliver a referendum if he got an absolute majority, freeing him from the coalition with the Liberal Democrats. He never imagined that he would get it. He did, and he then held the referendum never imagining that Brexit would win. It did, because most of those who voted for it voiced a general dislike of the European Union for whatever reasons, some of them totally ridiculous, and based to a large extent on the utter lies of the Leave campaigners. They all turned out and horrified everyone by just getting more than half the vote.So 17.4 million people have ruined the future of this country, unless of course we leave then someone promises to save us by taking us back in".
Thomas Holt, Businessman, Birmingham
"I voted Leave because I back Britain. If we leave, we can do our own trade deals".
TBH: Could you expand on that please?
INT: "What do you mean, expand?"
TBH: Well trade with whom and how?
INT: "We can throw our current deals in the miskin, like, and strike our own deals".
TBH: What is the miskin?
INT: "The dustbin, where you put your rubbish. We can strike deals with the USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, you know, our own stock, British".
TBH: Yes but have you any idea of the consequences? As it is you do half your trade with the European Union, and have a voice inside. Leave, and you have to pay billions every year to do the same trade and without a voice. So your products will be more expensive to export and you will pay more for imports. And what about the transportation costs to deliver goods elsewhere? What about competitivity in terms of prices?
INT: "Well we can leave the EU and do trade under World Trade Organization rules."
TBH: Yes but under the WTO rules, the tariffs will be ever higher, so back to the beginning in terms of competitivity.
INT: "Well I'd still rather be independent, whatever the consequences. We lived all right before the European Union and we'll be all right without them. We can always go back in if things get that bad, can't we?"
Alice Roberts, Leeds, Yorkshire. Shop Assistant
"I voted Leave, 'cos I don't like foreigners. I mean they come in 'ere and take our jobs and schools and 'ospitals and when you go to an 'ospital you get some Spanish nurse and some Indian doctor and you can't understand what they say, like, so you go like I gotta headache and they are like unga bunga gumba unga and you're like what the fook were that? And all them Iraquians and Iranians and Syrians and Somalians and them natives and them Africans all comming in 'ere on rafts, I mean just imagine, they're thousands of them all coming in here through Italy and Spain, I mean they ain't coming to work are they? They're coming to take our jobs, like, know what I mean? We don't want all them darkies coming in 'ere, why don't they fook off back to their own fookin' coontries?"
TBH: If you don't mind my saying so, that is a racist comment, putting everyone together as if people were not all different, and so what if they have dark skin? Don't British people spend all Summer trying to get a tan?
INT: "Well you can fook off an' all, you with your fookin', foony, poncy English. Fookin' foreigner!"
Jack Dobbin, Glasgow, Scotland, Shop Owner
"I don't know a single person in Scotland who voted Leave, this is what our English friends did for us and we're not going to accept it, not at all. They can leave if they want to, there was not a single constituency in Scotland that voted Leave, so democracy states that we in Scotland remain and if that means being independent again as we were for hundreds of years then so be it. The Saxons never brought us anything but misery and arrogance so to Hell with them. They Leave, we Remain. This is Scotland!"
"Taffy", Bus driver, Criccieth, Wales
"I voted Leave but I really wanted to vote Remain. I only voted Leave really 'cos me mates down the pub said they were going to vote Leave just for a laugh. We none of us knew really what Leave or Remain was. I still don't know today. Nobody knows really. Not even the Prime Minister, Maggie".
TBH: No that was Mrs. Thatcher, this one is called Theresa May
INT: "Oh I thought it was Maggie May, that's what my mum calls her and me nan. Me nan voted Leave because she doesn't like foreigners, she says they eat garlic and onions. She went to France once and didn't like the toilets. She said they were holes in the ground and that people there use bee-vays..."
TBH: No, bidets, pronounced bee-days.
INT: "Well me nan says people pee in them. I mean here we just use a toilet. So I think if they can't even use a toilet properly, we shouldn't be in the same club really. Well that's what me nan thinks. I think we should stay in really".
INT: "Well me Dad says we shouldn't take risks really. He says that if nobody knows what will happen, then why change anything. Let sleeping dogs lie. If we go it alone, we might lose our jobs because they say that we won't be able to export our Welsh produce. That's what me Dad says anyway and who am I to have a different opinion really? I mean that's for the politicals in London, really".
Arthek Penhaligon, Truro, Cornwall
"I thinks the whole thing is a mess, that's what I thinks. I mean, we should never have got in, in the first place, should we? But now we have been in so long, how are we going to get out? Once you're in, you're in. You can't be in then get out, not easily. You can fall in to a paper bag but how can you scramble out? Nobody knows how we're going to get out or what will be waiting for us. The way I see it, we'll be paying for what we have today for free, won't be able to do any trade deals because other countries aren't going to ditch their trade deals with the EU and do a separate one with the UK, are they? I mean the Europeans must be laughing at us watching us go down the pan. We are stupid, that's what I thinks anyway. I voted Leave but if I knew then what I know today I would have voted Remain. It's a shot in the dark, Leave. No good for anyone".
Janet Trellowes, East Coker, Somerset, Doctor
"I voted Remain, I don't know who voted Leave but it was mainly the northerners I think. It was all based on lies, that three hundred and fifty million pounds a week for the National Health Service, that's what did it and people placed all the eggs in one basket with the refugee crisis at the same time and hey presto, a nice mess orchestrated by Cameron, the fool. Most people would vote Remain today so I think we should have a second referendum reflecting the will of the people today and in the future. Young people want to Remain, so if the gap today would be some 60-40% to Remain, tomorrow it will be even wider, so what is anti-democratic about a Referendum?
Paul Bennet, Clerk, London
"Well, I voted Leave. I mean it's them French, innit?"
TBH: What do you mean?
INT: "Well, it's them foreigners, Argy-Bargies, an' that..."
TBH: What is an Argy-Bargy?
INT: "Them Argentines. They want to take Gibraltar, don't they? Well we can't 'ave that, can we? It's British! And them Spaniards an' all, they all want our fish an' if they all take our fish, how are we goin' to 'ave fish n' chips? See? Now nobody thought about that did they? Ever had fish n' chips on the Continent? I did once, in Calais. That's Belgium innit? I mean I asked them why is the fish n' chips 'ere, different, from what it is back home, and they couldn't reply, could they? Right, that's why I voted Stay in!"
TBH: You mean Leave?
INT: "Yeah, Leave, that's it!"
TBH: But Argentina is in Latin America...
INT: "Well there you go, it's all Spain, innit?"
I believe that is a fair sample of what I heard in 768 interviews I conducted around the country in November of this year. I would say that in some twenty per cent of the cases, I couldn't understand a word they said, especially in the area around Newcastle and Sunderland in the North-East, a region which voted Leave but which stands to have massive problems with Brexit. In the north in general, they use the word "fooking" as an adjective, meaning "rather, quite, very".
As we can see, we get the impression that the Brexit vote was a mistake, without a caveat of two thirds one way or the other, and today most people would vote to Remain. Some people seem to have an idea of the terrible consequences that Brexit will bring because they understand that in a world composed of clubs of trading blocks, moving outside and trying to be a Lone Ranger is like pitting a Roman Legion against a division of armoured cavalry, using tanks.
WTO is not an option, because the tariffs would worsen, as it is, Brexit means the UK loses its voice in Europe and pays billions every year to do trade, meaning higher taxes, massively higher taxes and much less money for public services. How can there be 350 million pounds a week for the NHS if that money and much more will be spent on doing trade with the EU and on paying the huge social costs of massive unemployment, of the type the UK has never seen?
What is utterly amazing in my opinion is the total lack of guidance from the political class, itself as divided as the people without informing anyone of the huge costs Brexit will bring. What is even more amazing is the sheer ignorance demonstrated in the interviews. I would say half the people managed, more or less, when I could understand them, to state an opinion and back it up with reasons but others displayed a degree of ignorance which is shocking.
Brexit = paying to do trade with those the UK does 50% of its trade with for free. Brexit = higher costs of imports = higher prices. Brexit = less competitivity for exports = factories closed, massive unemployment. Brexit = misery levels of poverty in Wales and in the North of England, it means massive loss of services for the South of England. Brexit = an insult to the democratic will of the Scots. Brexit = no new trade deals because people are already doing trade with the EU on its own terms. They need Britain for what?
My advice to the British politicians? The NO DEAL Brexit is a disaster. If the British people would today vote for REMAIN, and if the first referendum was purely a consultation at that time based on what exactly? Vapid ideas and lies? Then, in this case, use the easiest option of a lot of bad options and hold a second referendum, letting the people decide. This time around, they know what they are voting for. As for the people, I would urge them to hold massive (legal) demonstrations demanding a second vote. Then those who lose this time around cannot complain about democracy. Next time, do not play around with serious things. The world today is composed of trading blocks, period. Nobody is interested whether you like it or not. If soup is what is on the table, you eat it or go without. Perfectly simple. You can have fantasies about roast pheasant and pie and peas, but if there is none available...
Brexiteer Britain is on a quest for the dodo.
*Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, deputy editor, editor, chief editor, director, project manager, executive director, partner and owner of printed and online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles; the Russian Foreign Ministry publication Dialog and the Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Publications. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. A Vegan, he is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights. He is Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru. He is an official translator, a coach, a consultant and a professor.