mcloudyn.png
Tuesday October 15th, 2019 7:46AM

Britain's Brexit heartland seethes at delay and 'betrayal'

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

BOSTON, England (AP) — Like its American namesake, the English town of Boston has a reputation for rebellion.

Three years ago, almost 76% of voters in this eastern England town opted, against the government's advice, to leave the European Union, the highest pro-Brexit vote in the U.K. With Britain's departure delayed and politicians deadlocked, Bostonians now feel frustration, fatigue and even fury. And they warn Prime Minister Boris Johnson that he will be out of a job if he breaks his vow that Britain will leave the EU on Oct. 31, come what may.

"It's a shambles," retired truck driver Mick Phoenix said. "It's disgusting and, to be frank, verging on treason. They're going against the will of the people."

Julia Barber, shopping at the town's open-air market, is also frustrated with lawmakers who voted last week to block Johnson's bid to leave the EU without a deal, and rejected the prime minister's call for a snap election.

"We can't get anywhere. They are just blocking everything," she said. "The whole country's in limbo."

Britain as a whole is split down the middle over Brexit . But support for leaving the EU — and ending European citizens' automatic right to settle in the U.K. — remains strong in Boston, where rapid change from immigration has fueled resentment toward the 28-nation bloc.

Since the EU expanded eastwards in 2004, the historic market town has been transformed by thousands of immigrants from Poland, Lithuania and other ex-Communist countries who came to pick cauliflowers, broccoli and potatoes in the fertile fields around Boston or work in the region's food factories.

The population of Boston, 120 miles (200 kilometers) north of London, has grown by a fifth since 2001, to about 68,000. The sturdy little town that provided some of America's first Puritan settlers has become a collage of cultures. Traders sell local produce at an open-air market in the shadow of a medieval church, around the corner from a street of Eastern European supermarkets, travel agents and information centers.

Some long-term residents feel unsettled by the change. Unemployment in Boston is below the national average, but so are wages, and some locals blame the ready supply of migrant labor for keeping salaries low. Population growth — and years of public-spending cuts by the Conservative-led British government — have stretched schools, hospitals and housing. It's common to hear long-settled residents accuse the newcomers of drunkenness and bad behavior.

Nigel Welton, the Conservative deputy leader of the town council, thinks immigration has been good for Boston, and says migrants have sometimes been scapegoated for local problems. But he says "a lot of people have seen too much change, too quickly."

"We're a small, rural market town, and we've recently started to have city problems," he said.

"When local people can't get jobs, local people can't get to see their doctor, local people can't get proper housing, and it's because of the amount of immigration without services, then that's going to upset the local community."

The concerns are shared by Anton Dani, Boston's first-ever immigrant mayor. Dani, who became civic leader in May, was born in Morocco, raised in France, and runs Cafe de Paris, a Gallic corner of Boston complete with pictures of the late French singer Charles Aznavour on the walls.

"This small town can't take everything," Dani said. "The infrastructure has been hit so hard that the people, their reaction — which is normal — has been delivering Brexit. If I look at it as a migrant, I do understand that kind of position."

Not all "leave" supporters in Boston are motivated by immigration. Simon Brigden, who is married to a Polish woman, said he doesn't like the bureaucratic EU, but thinks European citizens are an asset.

"I didn't vote (to leave) because of immigration," said Brigden, who employs Poles and Lithuanians in his construction business. "I don't want to get rid of them.

"They're obviously putting money into the local area as well," Brigden said after attending a Polish-language Mass with his family at St. Mary's Church. "They're filling the schools. They're filling the church up."

Some Brexit supporters acknowledge that leaving the EU won't solve all of Boston's problems. It may even make them worse. Farmers' groups say it is already getting harder to attract European workers, and the agriculture sector will face labor shortages if migration falls.

"When people were voting, they weren't aware what they were doing," said Adam Altynksi, a Polish parcel delivery driver who has lived in Britain for 14 years. "Because it's going to affect them, that choice. It's going to be harder times. The economy will be in a much more difficult situation."

As it stands, Britain is set to crash out of the EU on Oct. 31 without a divorce deal to cushion the economic shock. Most economists say a no-deal Brexit will disrupt trade between Britain and the bloc and plunge the U.K. into recession. The pound, which has lost more than 15% of its value since the 2016 referendum, is likely to fall further. Food prices are set to rise and medicines could run short.

Many Brexit supporters believe the long-term benefits of an independent trade policy will outweigh any short-term pain. And some simply don't care about the economic cost.

Anthony Henson, a retired IT and finance worker from the nearby town of Sleaford, said the vote for Brexit was about independence, not economics.

"It's our country: We ought to be able to determine how we work together with other countries and how we take our country forward," he said. "Whether it makes us richer or poorer is neither here nor there."

Boston's febrile Brexit atmosphere leaves Matt Warman, the area's member of Parliament, with a balancing act. The Conservative lawmaker spends a lot of time reassuring European constituents that Britain wants them to stay after Brexit, but also understands concerns about the rapid changes immigration has brought to the town.

He voted for former Prime Minister Theresa May's EU divorce deal — which was rejected three times by Parliament — but now agrees with Johnson that a no-deal Brexit would be better than remaining a member of the EU.

"What I hear from constituents is 'Get on with it,'" Warman said. "Respecting the result is something that trumps the potential short-term trauma of a no-deal."

The jobs of both Warman and his prime minister depend on delivering Brexit soon. With Parliament and the government deadlocked, Britain is almost certain to face a snap election within months. Pro-EU voters are already flocking to opposition parties, and if Johnson doesn't deliver on his promise to leave the EU on Oct. 31 "do or die," the Conservatives could lose towns like Boston to the single-issue Brexit Party, led by veteran euroskeptic politician Nigel Farage.

"Saturday the 31st of October, the prime minister has said 'Do or die.' That's what people believe. They're fully behind him," Welton said. "And if he doesn't deliver it, then people are going to be extremely upset in this town."

___

Associated Press senior producer Jeffrey Schaeffer contributed to this story.

___

Follow AP's full coverage of Brexit and British politics at: https://www.apnews.com/Brexit

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Economy
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Britain's Brexit heartland seethes at delay and 'betrayal'
Like its American namesake, the English town of Boston has a reputation for rebellion
5:55AM ( 5 minutes ago )
UN rights chief airs worries on climate change, migrant kids
The U.N. human rights chief says she is "alarmed" that migrant children are still being held in centers in the United States and Mexico, and warns that climate change is a top threat to rights worldwide
5:43AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Activists: Airstrikes on Iran-backed groups in Syria kill 18
Syrian activists say unknown warplanes targeted arms depot of Iranian-backed militias in eastern Syria
5:40AM ( 19 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
British Airways grounds nearly all flights as pilots strike
British Airways says it has had to cancel almost all flights as a result of a pilots' 48-hour strike over pay
4:02AM ( 1 hour ago )
UK's Johnson to meet Irish leader as Brexit crisis simmers
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to meet with Irish leader Leo Varadkar in search of a compromise on the simmering Brexit crisis The two are to meet in Dublin Monday morning for the first time since Johnson took power in July
3:54AM ( 2 hours ago )
Search warrants served in California boat fire investigation
Authorities have served search warrants at the California company that owned the scuba diving boat Conception, which caught fire and killed 34 people last week
12:52AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP National News
19 Slams: Nadal stops Medvedev comeback bid to win US Open
Rafael Nadal has won his 19th Grand Slam title by edging Daniil Medvedev in a five-set thriller of a U.S. Open final
11:31PM ( 6 hours ago )
Dorian lashes east Canada, then weakens heading out to sea
The storm that already battered the Virgin Islands, Bahamas and North Carolina has whipped at far-eastern Canada with hurricane-force winds for much of the day, before weakening and heading out to sea Sunday night
11:01PM ( 6 hours ago )
Nadal edges Medvedev for 4th US Open title, 19th Slam trophy
Rafael Nadal has won his 19th Grand Slam title by beating Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 in the U.S. Open final
9:28PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Competing with football, marathon House election nears end
Stakes high for rivals in Tuesday's special House election in North Carolina, but not all voters are focused
1:44AM ( 4 hours ago )
In Alabama, Sen. Doug Jones kicks off 2020 reelection bid
U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, who pulled off an upset victory in Alabama two years ago, is kicking off his reelection bid
10:39PM ( 7 hours ago )
Trump spends Sunday golfing at Virginia club
Trump spends Sunday golfing at Virginia club, his second visit this weekend
6:18PM ( 11 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Ex-SC Gov. Mark Sanford to challenge Trump in primary
Mark Sanford, the former South Carolina governor and congressman, has decided to launch a longshot Republican challenge to President Donald Trump
12:15PM ( 17 hours ago )
Ex-UK minister says Johnson not trying to get a Brexit deal
A senior minister who quit British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Cabinet says the government is making little or no effort to secure a Brexit agreement with the European Union, despite Johnson's insistence that he wants a deal
6:11AM ( 23 hours ago )
In new blow, Cabinet minister quits Boris Johnson government
Embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suffered a new blow with the resignation of a Cabinet minister, who says she does not believe Johnson is sincere about getting a Brexit deal with the European Union
5:23PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Congress News
Global shares mostly rise as market players weigh data mix
Global are mostly higher as the week started with a mix of economic data for the region and the U.S.
4:01AM ( 1 hour ago )
Nissan board to meet; chief faces renewed pressure to resign
Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa has acknowledged he is working to pass over the helm at the Japanese automaker to the next generation, indicating he was ready to step down
2:19AM ( 3 hours ago )
States expected to target Google in new antitrust probe
A group of states led by Texas are expected to announce an investigation into Google on Monday to examine whether the Silicon Valley tech giant has gotten too big and anti-competitive
2:17AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business
Saudi king replaces energy minister, naming one of his sons
Saudi Arabia's King Salman has replaced the country's energy minister with one of his own sons, naming Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman to one of the most important positions in the kingdom
12:59PM ( 17 hours ago )
China's trade with US shrinks as tariff war worsens
China's trade with the United States falls as they prepare for negotiations with no sign of progress toward ending a worsening tariff war that threatens global economic growth
7:33AM ( 22 hours ago )
Greece must restore its credibility, new prime minister says
Greece's new Prime Minister says success in implementing reforms - reducing taxes, fighting bureaucracy and attracting investment - must be achieved before the country asks its creditors to agree to lower budget surpluses.
2:20AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Economy
UN rights chief airs worries on climate change, migrant kids
The U.N. human rights chief says she is "alarmed" that migrant children are still being held in centers in the United States and Mexico, and warns that climate change is a top threat to rights worldwide
5:43AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Activists: Airstrikes on Iran-backed groups in Syria kill 18
Syrian activists say unknown warplanes targeted arms depot of Iranian-backed militias in eastern Syria
5:40AM ( 20 minutes ago )
Pope honors Mauritius diversity, urges ethnical development
Pope Francis has arrived in the Indian Ocean nation of Mauritius to celebrate its diversity, encourage a more ethical development and honor a 19th century French missionary who ministered to freed slaves
5:35AM ( 25 minutes ago )
UK's Johnson tells Irish leader Brexit deal can be reached
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to meet with Irish leader Leo Varadkar in search of a compromise on the simmering Brexit crisis.
5:33AM ( 28 minutes ago )
The Latest: UK investment in Netherlands soars since Brexit
The Dutch government's statistics office says that British investment in the Netherlands has soared since the United Kingdom voted in 2016 to leave the European Union, while Dutch investment in Britain has shrunk
5:26AM ( 34 minutes ago )