Is Brexit actually a good thing?

Brexit or stay?The disagreement between the British

For the people in London, around the scaffolded Big Ben, which is currently only very seldom the hour, the matter is actually very clear: They would like to leave everything as it is. In June 2016, 60 percent voted to remain in the European Union, and in some parts of the city it was even 75 percent.

All around Big Ben you can find people like Femi Oluwole. He co-founded the youth organization "Our Future, our choice" and can still remember the morning after the referendum.

"Don't give up on us!"

"My country will never be good again," he thought at first. Femi studied law and worked in Austria, Belgium and France. Europe is my home, says Femi. To this day, the 28-year-old is fighting for Britain to remain in the EU. And he asks for help, not just in his home country.

"My message to Germany and everyone else in Europe is: Don't give up on us! The future generation of Great Britain doesn't want Brexit. They want to be part of the European family. So please: don't close the door!"

More than nine million people live in London: locals and immigrants, people from all parts of the world, especially from Asia, Africa, Europe. The city is colorful like no other in the country. London is different from the rest of the country.

Boston in East England is considered the Brexit capital of Great Britain. Around every fourth inhabitant comes from Eastern Europe (picture alliance / Silvia Kusidlo / dpa)

"The migrants are taking our jobs away from us"

The small city of Boston in the east of Great Britain, not far from the North Sea: Around 200 kilometers from London: The place looks peaceful, with the brick buildings, the church tower, which is only called Stump by the residents, the river and the bridges that lead over it .

If you walk through the streets of Boston, you will notice many small shops that advertise "European Food" in their shop windows. There are packet soups from Lithuania, sunflower seeds from Romania and beer from Poland. For the many newcomers from Eastern Europe.

Bill doesn't like this development: "I absolutely agree that we should leave the EU. The main reason is that the migrants are taking our jobs away from us - in agriculture, in factories - here in the region and that's why a lot of people have for the Voted Brexit. "

Bill works for a locksmith in historic downtown Boston. In 2016, he belonged to around 76 percent of the residents of Boston who voted for Brexit. Immigrants from Eastern Europe were a key issue before the referendum. When the 50-year-old speaks, he exposes a large gap in his teeth. Bill feels forgotten by the politicians.

The British media also refer to Boston as Little Poland. Many blame migrants for the fact that the NHS, the UK's health care system, is overburdened, rents are horrendous and wages are still falling. The new residents come from Romania, Poland and Lithuania, have found jobs as seasonal workers in agriculture and the surrounding factories in Boston, are staying permanently or only for one season. Boston is part of the UK vegetable garden, the soil is fertile, there is a lot of work to do.

"We can't find any Brits who would do that instead"

The farmer Robin Buck employs around 400 workers, only ten from Great Britain, the rest come from Eastern Europe. Before him lies a sea of ​​yellow spring flowers. Workers - especially young men from Romania - cut the stems every second and bundle ten flowers into a bouquet.

"We depend on the migrants, especially in the Easter bell season, during this time we need 250 workers. We pick four million bouquets - over about six to ten weeks. They work seven days a week. It's very good work, she It's worth it, but it's also tough, so we can't find any British people who would do it instead. "

Buck says he pays fair wages, including vacation days. Other farmers, or the agencies that mediate the workers, would reduce wages, however. And that is the problem, explains the local politician of the opposition Labor party Paul Gleeson. "Part of the problem is a historical failure of governments at all levels. They have failed to respond to the influx of large numbers of workers from the new EU countries. It has an impact on our society, on our communities. But it is not that Mistakes made by the people who came to work here. House prices, rents have risen and salaries have fallen at the same time. And that hit the communities. The problem is that the new workers are now being blamed instead of us To tell politicians that we should have made sure that rents remained fair. "

(AFP / Tolga Akmen)
Rents reached some of those in London, while average wages fell, according to Gleeson. Social housing was sold to private buyers who were rented at high rents to groups of workers from Eastern Europe. The city is divided: on the one hand the long-established British and on the other hand the migrants.

Back on the daffodil field. Christina looks after the workers of farmer Buck, she sometimes helps with the translation in the fields if there are communication problems, very few speak English. The 32-year-old herself came to Great Britain from Lithuania 13 years ago. She knows how many British people talk about people like her: the migrants from Eastern Europe scrounge social benefits, crime has risen with them, the young men pissed on the street. Christina shrugs her shoulders, she herself gets along well with the British.

"I haven't had any problems with the people here so far, not even after the referendum. I don't think the mood is aggressive. I live in a nice neighborhood in Boston, only British live here, nobody looks at me strangely. We just don't know what happens. But I think if the farmers don't get their seasonal workers from other countries, who will do the work, who will pick the daffodils? The farmers will be desperate. "

"To be honest, Brexit is a terrible idea"

Street music outside the shopping center in Aberdeen. The city on the Scottish North Sea coast voted 61 percent to remain in the European Union in 2016. Including the 48-year-old engineering trainer Brian, who is on his way to his lunch break:

"To be honest, Brexit is a terrible idea. And the fact that politicians still have no plan makes matters worse. I can already sense that companies are less and less willing to train engineers for four years because of the uncertain future prospects . "

The drop in raw material prices would have already hit oil production off the coast of Aberdeen hard - and now Brexit too! The generators of the ships that supply the oil platforms are buzzing in the harbor.

A few hundred meters away, in the town hall, city councilor Ian Yuill is worried: "Nobody knows what will really happen after Brexit. That alone is already chaotic. But the Institute Center for Cities examined the likely effects of Brexit in 2017. After that the exit from the EU will hit Aberdeen the hardest of all UK cities. "

The exit from the EU is forecast to hit Aberdeen hardest of all UK cities (Imago)

The village of Newmachar is 20 kilometers north of Aberdeen. Here at Sittyton Farm, John Fyall raises Shorthorn cattle and sheep. His 1,500 lambs come from the Scottish Highlands - now they will eat their way around his place in Aberdeenshire until Easter, when they will be used for the holiday roast, especially with the numerous customers in France and Germany.

But if the postponement of the exit date of March 29th does not work out, then in the worst case this business will not work. Then John Fyall will not be able to bring his Scottish lambs to the continent for Easter.

"It is as if the government were quickly scribbling down their homework on the school bus in the hope that the teacher would accept it. This is not the way to deal with the people whose existence is at stake here."

Should it come to Brexit, then at least the party of Scottish nationalists, the SNP, wants to have another vote on Scottish independence from Great Britain. Stewart Stevenson, who represents the coast north of Aberdeen in the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, says his party will put a new Scottish independence referendum on the agenda if it is sure to win it. In 2014, the Scots had spoken out in favor of remaining in Great Britain. At that time, however, there was no threat of Brexit.

EU grant: art instead of toilets

Heavy continuous rain falls on Cardiff, the capital of Wales, that evening. Around 53 percent of the people in Wales voted in favor of leaving the European Union, although a particularly large amount of money flows from the EU to Wales. Hundreds of coal mines and steelworks once provided wages and work to tens of thousands of people here, this was the origin of the industrial revolution, they still proudly tell us.

Today the south of Wales is one of the poorest regions in all of Europe, according to the EU definition on a par with Bulgaria and Romania, for example. That is why the coal for the region is now coming from the EU's pots - around five billion euros in the past ten years alone. Nevertheless, the frustration is great. In the Valleys, 62 percent were in favor of Brexit, despite the sums from Brussels.

"I've seen the money go to waste over the years," complains Zoe Powell. Zoe Powell runs a small shop for sewing supplies in the provincial capital Ebbw Vale. In a small square in front of their shop, the Steel Dragon stands several meters high. The kite is the symbol of Wales. This figure cost 22,000 pounds, paid for by the EU.

"When our kite was set up, they closed all of our public toilets at the same time because there was no more money. The EU grant was only for a work of art. So I asked: Can't we have artistic toilets "It didn't work, so we didn't have any toilets."

The EU has invested around eight million euros in a commercial center in Ebbw Vale, and with almost 100 million euros it has subsidized the construction of a large country road across the valleys. Zoe Powell does not believe that Wales will receive the now missing Brussels money from London in the future. "Nobody cares about us," she says. "We don't get anything from the Conservatives because we are Labor ancestral countries, and not from Labor because they know that they have a safe seat here."

Nevertheless, she would decide to leave again if she voted again. "If there were a second referendum, the majority would be even bigger. Because we have already voted. We don't need a second referendum. This area would still vote for Leave."

Around 53 percent of the people in Wales voted in favor of leaving the European Union, although a particularly large amount of money is flowing from the EU to Wales (picture-alliance / dpa / Oliver Berg)

"We weren't told everything"

In an old bank branch across the street, Diane and Steven Roberts have set up an unusual combination of jewelry store, coffee shop and gallery. The two are sitting by the coal stove and Diane assures: "I would definitely vote for quit again." Steven, on the other hand, her husband, has changed his mind. He voted to stay, but in retrospect he is also in favor of leaving.

"I didn't look into it like that at the time. It seemed as if all of our money came from the EU. And that only went into useless things. But the more I dealt with it, the more I saw that a lot of what was here got lost to heavy industry, just emigrated to other EU countries, and here they shut everything down. "

Just like Steven, Fran Bevan has changed fronts - but in the opposite direction, exit to stay. But it took a while, says the former nurse, who is now retired. "Back then I stayed up all night until the result came. I voted to leave. But the more time went on, the more I realized: We weren't told everything."

Today it is clear to her: That was a wrong decision. Now Fran is in favor of remaining in the EU, but at least for a second referendum - with one caveat: "Shall I tell you something? I think people over 70 should no longer take part. It no longer really affects us. But the 16-year-olds, that affects them massively! It's their life, it's their future. "

Oxford offshoot planned in Berlin

It's a sunny day in Oxford, with students sitting outside in the cafes. Lukas Sonnenberg is taking a break from studying. The 23-year-old is studying philosophy and European politics at the prestigious University of Oxford. Brexit does not cause fear in the German student. "But I don't think I want to stay in the UK for the long term, especially if they leave."

Even though the UK government has announced that EU students will not have to pay higher tuition fees if they enroll by autumn 2019, many are unsettled. After Brexit, a visa requirement and new residence regulations could be introduced.

In Oxford they didn't want Brexit. In the referendum two years ago, 70 percent of the electorate voted to remain in the EU. There is a lot at stake for the university, and research is absolutely dependent on EU funding. For the 2015/16 academic year, Oxford received £ 74 million from the EU. But the university has now imposed a speech ban. Professors are not officially allowed to comment a few days before the departure date on March 29.

Many EU students at the renowned Oxford University are unsettled (picture alliance / Photoshot)
18 percent of the staff and 16 percent of the students at Oxford currently come from countries in the European Union. In view of the uncertain future, the university is looking for alternatives to ensure close cooperation in the future. Quasi an Oxford branch on the European continent is soon to be opened in Berlin.

Joe Inwood does not want to be satisfied with such compromises. Inwood still wants to prevent the exit from the EU. The spokesman for the student association is campaigning for a second referendum. He meets with members of parliament, wants to mobilize his fellow students. "It is a political decision that was not made by our generation. We have an important role now, we can stand up and say: This is not happening here in our name."

Sunderland's auto industry slumps ahead of Brexit

Sunderland, the Labor stronghold and working-class city in the English northeast, voted in 2016 with 60 percent to leave. "I never wanted to be in the EU. And the sooner we get out, the better. We have lost thousands and thousands of jobs. Shipbuilding is gone, the other industries too. We have nothing left. Only the Nissan factory. Whether we stay in the EU or not - these jobs will also disappear if they can produce the cars cheaper elsewhere, "says 80-year-old pensioner Jim.

Sunderland was once the largest shipbuilding location in the world. But then came Margaret Thatcher, who with her economic policy in the 1980s flattened the English industry and instead made the banks big - in London, not in Sunderland.

Every minute the trucks rush out of the factory gates of the Nissan factory in Sunderland with new cars piggybacking. The Japanese have been producing the Juke and Qashqai models here in the largest car factory on British soil in the Washington district since 1984, almost half a million new cars a year, two thirds of them for customers in EU countries on the continent.

7,000 jobs in the factory alone, 40,000 more jobs at the suppliers - Nissan is now the largest employer in the Sunderland region. According to previously unconfirmed reports, the company now wants to reduce production due to the Brexit uncertainty and stop one of three shifts. The Japanese company has definitely given up on the plan to build the new X Trail model in Sunderland. It is now made in Japan alone.

Brexit threatens to make the already economically troubled Sunderland even poorer. And yet people want to get out of the EU and don't believe in a new referendum.