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Residents of a town in Britain that voted for Brexit regret their decision


Written by: euronews with ap

“They did not give us the full facts… They told us things that were not true,” explains the psychological counselor in the town, located 30 km east of the British capital.

Grays, a town near London, voted overwhelmingly in favor of Brexit. But three years after leaving the European Union, some are harboring a sense of regret as the country experiences one crisis after another.

“I voted for Brexit, but I regret it,” says María Evares, 42, adding that she feels cheated by politicians.

“They did not give us the full facts… They told us things that were not true,” explains the psychological counselor in the town, located 30 km east of the British capital.

“The country is now like a pilotless ship,” she explains, after the removal of two Conservative leaders last year, one of whom was Boris Johnson, who led the campaign to leave the union.

In the 2016 referendum, 72.3 percent of voters voted in favor of leaving Brexit in the constituency of Thurrock, Sussex, which includes Grays, its largest town and home to nearly 75,000 people.

It was the fourth largest pro-Brexit result out of the 382 polling districts in Britain that supported secession.

Eurosceptic Nigel Farage chose Thurrock as the venue to announce his anti-union platform for the May 2015 general election.

The region, which was dependent on industry and received many immigrants from eastern Europe, also includes Tilbury, one of the largest container ports in the country.

In 2017, an AFP report from the region found that Brexiteers had little regret over their vote a year later. However, the effects of leaving the union did not fully appear until the end of January 2020.

Johnson promised Britain “hills sunlit”. But she got Covid and is now experiencing a crippling cost of living crisis caused by very high inflation.

Thurrock local council effectively went bankrupt in December after a series of disastrous investments.

In the pedestrian town center of Grays, an abandoned shop window has a “Forever Closed” sign.

Like many other high streets in Britain, most of the remaining shops are dominated by discount retailers offering one pound items, charity shops and betting shops.


And while the government attributes Britain’s economic hardship to the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, Brexit is increasingly being blamed for the country’s decline after it closed borders with the European single market across the Channel from Essex.

Another 50-year-old woman, who asked not to be identified, said: “Yes, I voted for Brexit, and I wish I hadn’t.”

“Look at the country now. It’s a disaster, isn’t it?” she added. Explaining that most of the people she knows regret their yes vote.

Ivars said those who defended their vote for Brexit now felt “embarrassed” and even “ashamed”.

Never before has support for Brexit been so low across the country, according to a YouGov poll published in November.

Less than a third of Britons believe it was the right decision, meaning that one in five supporters of leaving have changed their mind, according to the poll.

“What were the Brexiteers expecting?” asked an NHS employee in Grays who wanted to stay in the union. “We have lost funding from the European Union,” he added.

Save the National Health Service (NHS) was a slogan of Johnson’s campaign to leave the union. On his red campaign bus he wrote: “We send the EU £350m a week. Let’s fund the NHS instead.”

Currently, NHS workers, who for the first time include male and female nurses, are on strike to protest government salaries.

“some time”

But Eileen Reed, 73, who used to work in the financial sector in London, is not in the regretful camp.

“I might vote again to leave,” she said.

“We live on an island, isolationists. I felt we had lost control. Brussels broke a lot of laws,” she added.

“So much has happened that we haven’t had the opportunity to see all the benefits” of Brexit, she added.

The UK is the only G7 economy whose GDP has not returned to pre-pandemic levels.

The British government’s office in charge of “balancing responsibility” estimates that leaving the European Union will reduce the size of the British economy by about 4 percent in the long run.

But neither Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative government nor the opposition Labor Party promise to change course, but to make Brexit work.

Ray Yates, 70, a former dockworker, said the situation in Thurrock was “frightening”, stressing at the same time: “I still want Brexit”.

“But it will take some time, at least 10 years, and a new government,” he added.

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