January 31, 2020 was not a good day for the blue flag with the yellow stars. In London’s Parliament Square, some bitter British opponents of the European Union trampled him, while others mourned at home. He sang “Auld Lang Sin” in the Parliament of the European Union and let the British go. It’s been two years since Great Britain left the European Union – its people are more divided than ever. How do the British, whose prime ministers are fighting for their political survival, think about Brexit 24 months later and a trade deal? Stroll through the British capital.
“I wish we were still in the European Union,” says Carol Christophe of Surrey Hills, who is walking with her husband in the Covent Garden square. She voted against Brexit and worries about her daughters (17 and 21), who want to pursue an international career. Living and working where you want is only possible for Britons with the appropriate visa – and it’s expensive and time-consuming. The same goes for EU citizens, many of whom came to the UK to work. Today, Christophe notices that signs are hanging everywhere, looking for employees, whether in gastronomy or retail.
It also concerns Amanda Hitchcock, who behaves quickly enough to smoke a cigarette on the street in the City of London. Britain ends – or at least tries to – conclude contracts with cleaning and protection companies for a large commercial building. She says, “I haven’t found any sweeper or security guard in the world who has the best willpower. There is a huge gap there.” Hitchcock says his government did not properly implement the EU exit. “They really got us in trouble with it.” He is one of the stay-at-home candidates for the 2016 referendum. “I’m very fair,” she says.
Hitchcock is the exception rather than the rule. If you ask the British, most have a clear opinion – although in some respects it has changed greatly. “Voting for Brexit was the stupidest decision ever. I deeply regret it,” admits Sam, who works in the cultural field in London and doesn’t want his full name to be made public. Friends and colleagues he has met in recent years do not know that he voted to leave in 2016.
Sam writes via email that he has not listened to a “liar” like Boris Johnson or Nigel Farage and therefore cannot say that he was lied to. Instead, he followed criticism of the EU’s agricultural policy or austerity policy towards Greece and wondered: “Whatever I know, do I want to be a part of it? The young fanatic in me thought I had to say no and Dream of something better.” Today the dreams came true. “I didn’t think about who would be responsible for leaving the EU, how strange and clown they would be, how ignorant and indifferent to how the EU actually works.”
In Survey by Rai Research Institute Opinium A few weeks ago, more than six out of ten Britons viewed Brexit as negative or worse than expected. So far Observer According to pollsters, 42 percent of those who voted to leave in the Brexit referendum have a negative opinion. “We are now seeing that a significant minority of leave voters say things are going badly, or at least worse than expected,” said Opinium pollster Adam Drummond. Instead of two tight fronts of Brexit supporters and opponents, even the “Quit” electorate is now divided.
The Brexit transition phase has also come to an end for a good year, and since then people in Great Britain are slowly beginning to realize what Brexit really meant so far – fewer employees, less choice of European products and more disruption the supply chain.
Even John Jones of London, who sees great opportunities in Brexit through trade agreements, has to admit that these have yet to come to fruition. The expected trade deal with the United States is far from over, with the contracts concluded so far making little difference to the economy. Jones statement: “Brexit has been blocked by Covid.”
Nigel Hanbury, who works for an insurance company in the London financial center, is already satisfied. “I think things are going really well,” says the 64-year-old. “Our business is thriving, but more importantly, we are free from the constraints of Europe.” He was really happy to be “out there”. “But we still have a lot of work to do,” he admits. The government should remove the old EU rules as soon as possible. Britain does not fear that the world famous London financial sector may be overtaken by Amsterdam or Frankfurt. “We’ve never had a more profitable business with Europe anyway.”
While London is somehow coming to terms with the fate of the country, work is already underway in the North to return to the Union. “Brexit has damaged the Scottish economy and our open relations with Europe,” writes pro-independence Scottish activist Michael Gray. “The UK government may get away with blaming it on COVID-19 for the time being, but eventually the reality will emerge that Brexit will leave us poorer and more isolated.”
Scotland’s return to the European Union is considered impossible as there are obstacles to the referendum and Scots are deeply divided. But if Gray and Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon have their way, they should vote on whether their country should secede from Britain next year. Next stop: the European Union.
Just before Christmas 2021, 1,904 British adults were interviewed for the Opinium study. The question was in English “Has Brexit gotten better or worse than you expected?” (dpa/rw)
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