POLITICS
02/03/2019 08:03 GMT | Updated 02/03/2019 09:34 GMT

Leeds People Think Politicians And Voters Are Confused By Brexit

The city narrowly voted Remain, and opinion is divided.

Bustling, cosmopolitan and upwardly mobile, Leeds was one of the few places in Yorkshire to vote Remain in the 2016 referendum.

But the truth is, Leeds is as divided as the country, and the Remain victory was incredibly narrow at 50.3% to 49.7%.

We headed into the rapidly redeveloping and expanding city centre, and the working class suburb of Cross Gates in the Leave-voting Leeds East constituency, to hear voters’ views on the chaos in Westminster.

 

‘The thought of another referendum is intensely depressing’

David Nichols, speaking in Leeds city centre, describes Brexit as “stupid” and says it will leave the UK worse off “economically, politically, culturally”, but he feels a second referendum as proposed by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour would simply entrench old divisions.

“The thought of another referendum is intensely depressing after the last one. Another referendum wouldn’t change anything because most people would vote the way they voted the first time – it might go the other way this time, but so what?

“The country would still be divided down the middle and then there’s the thought of the campaign, which would probably be even worse than the last one.

“It dragged political discourse into the gutter and it might drag it even further into the gutter.

“Farage will be back and all that, an imminent invasion by 35 million Turks, it’s a depressing thought another referendum.”

 

‘If you stopped immigrants coming to this country, I think people would really see the difference’

Marcia Williams, a social worker, is the daughter of immigrants to Britain and believes Brexit supporters were “ignorant” if they voted to leave to curb the number of people moving here.

“I think maybe that’s where some of the ignorance comes from because it’s not going to change immigration.

“If you stopped immigrants coming into this country, my parents were immigrants and I’m a professional working in a professional field - with social work, nursing, the doctors, I do think people would really see the difference.

“Part of me thinks, if the people that don’t want immigrants, if all the immigrants were to leave the UK and how the UK would stand, would they change their minds?”

 

‘There’s a lot of people who come here just to work, they pay their taxes, so I don’t see a problem with that’

Damien Stypik, a 23 year-old actor who arrived in Cross Gates aged eight, says his Polish parents have received abuse since the Brexit vote.

“Because I’ve been here for so many years so to me it doesn’t affect me as much,” he says.

“My parents are a bit different, they get affected quite a lot with people’s comments and stuff like that.

“I don’t hear much, I just hear bits of what people are saying.

“Everyone’s opinion of Brexit is just completely different because no one has any idea what’s actually happening.

“So for me, because i’ve been here for like 15 years, so I’m just pretty much like any other Brit.”

 

‘I just say leave Theresa May alone and let her do her job’

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Mick Johnston in Cross Gates is an ex-Labour voter who has deserted the party under Jeremy Corbyn. He is scathing about politicians’ failure to deliver the referendum result and wants to “sack all the MPs”, describing them as an “absolute waste of time”.

He believes Theresa May should be backed and her deal passed by the Commons.

“I’m not lover of Theresa May, I never have been, I’ve always been a Labour man but I would never vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

“I just say leave Theresa May alone and let her go and do her job.”

 

‘I think politicians are confused’

Precious Asare, in Leeds city centre, moved to the UK from Ghana and wants a second referendum because she is worried that “companies are moving out of Britain and food prices are going to go up” after Brexit.

She believes Brexit voters who simply wanted to reduce immigration did not take these issues into account.

“People did not think deep down about the consequences, it’s not just an immigration issue, it’s going to affect everyone one way or the other,” she says.

But she has some sympathy with MPs who cannot form a majority for any Brexit option having to deal with the public having voted to Leave.

“I think they are confused themselves, they don’t know what to do, it’s not an easy decision for them to make. I don’t blame them, they are not the ones who made the decision, it’s the public and now it’s turned back to them.”

‘A backstop to me is somebody who’s on the cricket field behind the stumps’

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David Barraclough, a rare Tory voter in Cross Gates, says he just wants politicians to “get on with it and sort it because they’re just passing it backwards and forwards”.

He wants the UK to have total control over policy in area like fishing and agriculture, declaring “leave means leave”, and believes Jacob Rees-Mogg could have done a better job negotiating Brexit because he’s “calm” and “you know where you are with him”.

He expresses frustration at May’s failure to communicate what her deal means.

“Do we know exactly what Theresa May’s deal is? Because they’re going on about the backstop, well a backstop to me is somebody who’s on the cricket field behind the stumps.

“So why don’t they explain what backstop clearly is because most people don’t know what it is.

“There’s black and white but we’ve got so many shades of grey.”

 

‘It’s irrational what they are doing, to me’ 

Nidhi Prayagsing, in Leeds city centre, is an exchange student from Mauritius reading European law at Leeds Beckett University.

She arrived three weeks ago and “of course” thinks there should be a second referendum because voters did not know what they were backing the first time around.

“Leaving the EU was trend, so they didn’t actually know what it was.

“It’s after the referendum that [people] started explaining what it really was and now the people are like ‘oh god what did I do?’”

Nidhi believes May is trying to achieve the impossible with Brexit and it would be better to leave with no deal if the country had to do so.

“You want to leave the EU yet they still want the services that the EU gives - that’s not fair because you pay to stay in the EU.

“The UK can’t just say, ‘I will leave but I still want those services.’”