Politics World

Welcome to Leave Land: Why Blaenau Gwent still wants Brexit

We’re about to leave the European Union, perhaps.

How we will go or whether our departure will be delayed hasn’t been settled. So much is still unknown.

Wales voted Leave in 2016 but with talk of extending Article 50 or even a new referendum how are Welsh Leave voters feeling?

I went to Blaenau Gwent to find out. It voted Leave by almost two thirds in 2

6 but with talk of extending Article 50 or even a new referendum how are Welsh Leave voters feeling?

I went to Blaenau Gwent to find out. It voted Leave by almost two thirds in 2016.

As a TV reporter, an easy way to find out what people are thinking is to ask them on the street. It’s not scientific but it’s effective. We call it the Vox Pop in the trade.

Normally it’s a bit like being a salesman – persuading people, who are usually shopping and don’t want to be on TV, to speak and share their views on something they might have no thoughts about.

Sometimes it can be a slog but not with Brexit, everyone has an opinion.

Mike Garland

First I speak with engineering boss Mike Garland from Tredegar.

To get to his factory you need to drive on the heads of the valleys road which was partly financed by EU funds.

The EU flag signs are everywhere and Mike hates it.

“Those signs annoy me a lot. It’s British money. We subsidise the rest of Europe. If we kept that money in this country we would be better off.”

I challenge Mike to justify that when the Brexit supporting UK government says the economy will be worse off.

For Mike it’s an act of faith.

“If we’d taken a positive view, from day one, and continued the positive view, like we should have had when we had the vote, I am convinced that we would be on a damned good footing now.”

– MIKE GARLAND

I then head to Ebbw Vale town centre.

According to the Office of National Statistics, Blaenau Gwent has some of the lowest immigration levels of anywhere in the UK.

Just 1% of people here are non British.

But immigration was the reason one man told me he voted leave. The other reason was fish.

“Why should all these people coming into my country?” he said.

I point at the official stats for immigration in the area.

“Quite true” he said, “I’m going by the rest of the country but don’t forget they hide around Ebbw Vale don’t they?”

“I don’t want them in my country, they don’t work, they flood the doctors appointments.”

– LEAVE VOTER

I ask why areas of higher levels of immigration like Cardiff or London voted to Remain when somewhere with low levels like Blaenau Gwent voted to Leave.

“How do you know we’ve got low levels? They are hiding out of the way. You go into a doctors surgery, then you’ll see Poles because they are all there with babies and god knows what. Try and get an appointment with your own doctor, two weeks, three weeks.”

For this man getting out of Europe was the main priority. He wasn’t alone.

“17 million people voted out, and you’ve got people trying to change it for their own ends, like politicians and rich business people. They don’t give a toss about us” said one man.

Another woman agreed.

“The people have voted, why should we vote again?”

Sian

There were some voices for Remain but not many.

I saw a women I spoke to the day after the referendum in 2016. She told me then she didn’t vote. Now she says she wish had and voted Remain.

But what of those Leavers?

Would they, like Nigel Farage, boycott any new referendum? Be turned off the electoral process for good?

There is a lot of anger here about how Brexit is being handled, but few second thoughts about the decision to go.

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