'The whole thing is a bit of a shambles' - What do people in Norfolk think of Brexit?
PUBLISHED: 16:08 25 January 2019 | UPDATED: 12:49 26 January 2019
As MPs prepare to thrash out the details of Brexit in parliament once again, our reporters took to the streets of Great Yarmouth, Cromer, King’s Lynn, and Norwich to find out what people thought of progress, how they voted in 2016 , and if they would vote differently now.
Emily Nurse, 21, and Alice Overton, 23, were taking a cigarette break from their jobs as support workers in Great Yarmouth.
They both voted remain in June 2016 and if a second referendum was held would not change their minds, they said.
Ms Nurse, originally from Dereham, said she is “not very confident with the way things are in the country”.
Of Theresa May, she said: “She’s f**ked it all up basically”.
“There are pros and cons to all of it, but when the referendum went on, there were a lot of untruths about it all,” she said.
Ms Overton said: “It’s all very confusing.”
Neither of the women, both Labour Party voters, said they felt represented by Brandon Lewis MP, who voted in favour of Theresa May’s deal.
Stephen Browne, 63, was drinking a cup of tea at Great Yarmouth’s outdoor market. A local man, he said he was currently out of work but in the afternoon would go to an interview for a warehouse job.
“Whether you voted in or out, it has got to be left to the politicians,” he said. However, “they should have made the problems clear before voting”, he added.
Mr Browne voted leave. He would vote leave again.
Does he feel represented by Mr Lewis? “Not really, no. I’m more on the Labour side,” he said, “but their leader [Jeremy Corbyn] is a bit dubious.”
Donna Hazelle, 48, from Great Yarmouth, voted leave and would vote leave again. She said there is “room for improvement” in Theresa May’s deal.
“It’s a bit of ‘we’ll take that’ sort of thing,” she said. Does she feels represented by Mr Lewis? “Not at all,” she said.
Steven Burbridge, 44, who runs Cromer Trophies and Engraving, in West Street, voted remain. “I would probably vote the same again, but I honestly don’t know,” he said. “I think the whole thing is a bit of a shambles; the referendum was two-and-a-half years ago and we are six weeks away and there is nothing in place. Lots of people are talking about Domesday scenarios, but I think it’s a bit like the millennium bug, you don’t know what will happen until it happens.”
Retired office worker Brenda Gough, of Weybourne, near Holt, thinks the Brexit situation is “absolutely awful” but believes north Norfolk MP Norman Lamb is doing a good job of representing his constituents in debates. “From what I’ve seen, he isn’t doing too badly,” she said. “But I blame David Cameron for starting the whole thing and I don’t think Theresa May is doing a very good job at all.”
Mrs Gough, 69, who voted remain and said she would vote the same again, added: “People either voted in or out, there was no mention of negotiating this and that - the whole thing has just gone on too long.”
John Buchanan, 75, voted leave and would do the same again. He said: “Unfortunately, I think Norman Lamb is once again sitting on the fence, he needs to do more to represent the views of his constituents. I am not terribly impressed with our politicians, I think I would have preferred it if parliament had accepted that the people had said leave and, in a democratic society, they should have got on and done what we voted for.”
Martin Braybrook, 71, voted leave, but said in the event of a second referendum, he “probably wouldn’t vote at all. It’s a pretty awful situation, nobody seem to be able to make a decision and we voted two-and-a-half years ago to do something which hasn’t been done, so it makes you wonder whether it was all worth it. Mr Braybrook, who, before he retired, was manager at Barclays Bank in Cromer, added: “I think Norman Lamb is a very good constituency MP and, although his views are never going to be the same as everybody’s, I think he has represented us well in the debate.”
Simon Ring, 53, founder of King’s Lynn-based financial advisors Ring Associates, said: “The world’s gone mad, it really has.
“All of the uncertainty we’re now seeing was heavily predicted but ignored. All people seemed to focus on was their own little world, their own little anti-European world.
“I was a remainer. I’m happy to shout from the highest roof-tops and I still would be.”
Of MP Sir Henry Bellingham, he added: “I was really pleased to hear him being a voice of common sense.”
Ivor Rowlands, 54, director of Melton Constable-based Big Prawn Company, which employs 90, said: “How I voted is not really relevant but our business operates more smoothly and the opportunities for our business are greater by remaining in Europe.
“I think the thing we’re most anxious about, whatever the politics, whether you think we should be in or out, is the impact no deal would have on our operations in terms of the added administration it would bring to our business.
“We have regular, frequent deliveries which go into Ireland or France. We’re talking 10 transactions a week which would be subject to considerable admin and costs.”
Of MP Sir Henry Bellingham, Mr Rowlands said: “I don’t really know to be honest. I’ve not really kept close to where he’s been on the whole subject.”
King’s Lynn busker Graeme Warwick, 47, said he did not vote. Asked how Brexit might affect him, he said: “It depends whether people have less money or not.
“I don’t think people really knew what they were voting for but I don’t think the world’s going to come to an end.”
Eleanor Emanuel, 41, from Norwich is a volunteer. She voted remain in 2016 and would vote the same now.
“It’s a bit of a disaster and quite worrying. I don’t really trust any of the politicians and when she [Theresa May] just about won her vote of no confidence I think it was because Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t much of a better option. If Labour had a better leader it could’ve gone a very different way.”
Laura Wilson, 17, a student from Norwich was too young to vote in 2016 but would have voted remain and today would do the same. She said “I think it is mission impossible. No matter how it pans out we are going to end up losing in some way. Maybe for many generations in the future it could be better but for this current generation is going to end up losing.”
Liam Lyles, 16, also a student from Norwich did not vote but would have voted remain then and would still vote remain now. He said: “I think nothing is set in stone. It all seems a bit rushed in the fact that I think before calling a referendum, the government should have had more of an idea of what would happen to the country if the majority voted leave. It’s not advantageous for our generation. It’s bad for us. Long story short it’s a big, big mess.”
Sarah, 55, who is self employed and lives in North Norfolk voted remain in 2016 and “hasn’t got a clue how she would vote” today. When asked about her thoughts on Brexit she said: “I think we’ve been lied to so much and consistently. Who can you believe? I don’t believe anything I read, I think the papers are all biased, the news is all biased, it will depends what other news there is on the day. It’s going badly.”
Mark, 73, is a retired builder. He voted remain and would still vote remain to this day. He said: “I was in the building trade and used to work all over Europe and I have lots of European friends who all want exactly the same as the English people.
“In my opinion, a totally united Europe, where everybody has the same rights, privileges, advantages and tax, we have the history, culture, brains and man power to have the highest standard of living in the world. But what’s stopping it? Politicians. It’s a total shambles.
“You’ve got politicians like Boris Johnson who admits he earns more on the side than he does being paid as an MP. He’s using that position to earn that money and in my opinion that’s corruption. If he’s doing that then how many more are? If these politicians seem to be more interested in looking after themselves, what is a politician’s job? They need to do what they can to improve the lives of the people they represent.”