‘It’s a shambles’: the view from the country on Brexit now

In the wake of Tuesday’s night’s crushing defeat in the House of Commons for Theresa May’s Brexit deal, we spoke to voters in three places that voted very differently in the 2016 referendum.

Burnley: ‘If we don’t see this through I will never vote again’

2016 referendum result: leave 66.6%, remain 33.4%

Hazel Allen, 64, in Burnley
 With Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement in tatters after an overwhelming rejection by MPs and a cabinet which remains deeply divided, it would seem that the rest of the country is also consumed by this division.

Yet in Burnley, the morning after the night before, people on both sides of the fence are united. Remainers and leavers speak of their overwhelming disappointment in May and her government. They all agree that democracy should be allowed to play out as intended: the public voted to leave, therefore the government should see to this.

proved a Brexit stronghold at the referendum, with people saying that they felt hopeless and neglected by politicians. The vote was seen as a way of getting their voices heard.

Leisure worker Hazel Allen, 64, voted to leave. She says she voted to protect the NHS; 10 years ago Burnley A&E was closed and, despite a long-running campaign, there are no plans to reopen it.

“I have not changed my mind and I don’t want another vote,” says Allen. “I am deeply disappointed with the government. They could have worked together to achieve what the people wanted, could have been stronger. What we have seen is just weakness and fighting. We voted for something but it doesn’t feel like we’re going to get it. What is the point?”

She adds: “If we don’t see this through I will never vote again.”

Jhangir Miah, 25.
 Jhangir Miah, 25, voted to remain. The financial sector worker wanted to keep a strong connection with EU businesses. But he agrees with Allen.

“Yes, I voted to stay because I felt that was the better option from all sorts of standpoints, but the result that we ended up with was to leave, so that’s what we should do,” he says.

“We should uphold what the people want. It would be harder for me in many ways if we left the EU, but May and her government need to show better leadership. They seem to have no clear idea about where we’re headed.”

Miah does believe that the Labour party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, could do a better job.

“They all have agendas, we saw that from what happened last night, but May hasn’t been able to achieve what the people want and maybe Corbyn can. We should at least give him a chance.”

Warehouse worker Chris Payne, 35, did not vote and says he feels completely removed from the process. However, if there were to be a second referendum he would vote to remain as it has been “nothing but trouble”.

He says: “I didn’t really understand it at the time, but since it started it has been a mess.”

He adds that one thing has been made clear by this process: “It has not been about the public. It is all about power – who stands to gain the most – politicians playing games and not listening to people.”

Glasgow: ‘I do think it’s time to have a second vote. It would be the most sensible way now’

2016 result: leave 32.4%, remain: 66.6%

Priyanka Mohapatra.

Standing at the cab rank by Queen Street station in Glasgow, taxi drivers James Sinclair and Billy Crilley are in agreement on one thing at least: “Nobody has a clue what’s going on.”

For Sinclair, who voted to leave the EU but now regrets the decision, May’s historic Commons defeat ought to force the government to end the endless rounds of negotiations. “What they ought to do is go to a no deal and walk away. This is dragging on too long and creating too much uncertainty for everyone,” he says.

Crilley, who voted to remain, wants a second referendum. “I think the majority would swing to stay this time,” he says. But Sinclair argues that another referendum will not settle the matter: “When do you stop voting? Because then the people who voted leave will want another one.”

 

 

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