Brexiteers Continue To Defend Their Position As October Deadline Inches Closer | WOSU Radio

Brexiteers Continue To Defend Their Position As October Deadline Inches Closer

Aug 29, 2019
Originally published on August 29, 2019 7:14 pm
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

We're going to follow up now on the latest stunning development out of Britain - Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling to suspend Parliament. This comes, of course, as the country heads towards crashing out of the European Union at the end of October. Many people in the U.K. see it as an attempt to make it as hard as possible for British lawmakers to stop a no-deal Brexit. Editorials in British newspapers have been lacerating. To pick just one from the Financial Times, it reads - (reading) Boris Johnson has detonated a bomb under the constitutional apparatus of the United Kingdom.

But not everyone agrees, as NPR's Frank Langfitt has been hearing. He hopped on a train this morning and headed north out of London to gauge reaction in pro-Brexit country. Frank, how you doing?

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: I'm fine, Mary Louise. How are you?

KELLY: I'm well, thanks. Where exactly are you?

LANGFITT: I'm in a town called Boston. It's the namesake of Boston, Mass. I'm actually just sitting along a river here - along the east coast of England. This is an area of the country that voted almost 76% for Brexit, more than any other town. And people here that I've been talking to today back Boris Johnson, totally different than what you would hear in London right now.

I was speaking to a woman named Sue Lam (ph). She runs a flower farm here in the county of Lincolnshire. Her point of view - you hear this from a lot of folks - is after more than three years, they're glad that Johnson is just trying to do anything to execute Brexit. This is what she said.

SUE LAM: And this thing of stalemate has gone on so long with Mrs. May, it's just unsustainable. The people want some action, whether it's the right thing or the wrong thing. The fact is you can't keep pulling teeth (unintelligible), and that's the stage we've got to. So if this is what it takes to actually make something happen then so be it, I think.

KELLY: The reference there to the former prime minister, Theresa May, who tried and failed to get Brexit through. But, Frank, I mean, what do voters like Sue Lam and other ones that you're talking to today, what do they say to that argument, as the FT put it, that this Boris Johnson move is a bomb under the constitutional apparatus of the U.K., that this is trying to stop Parliament from weighing in on something that's going to define Britain for generations to come?

LANGFITT: You know, that's not an argument that really lands here at all. And I think that there's this great frustration that it has taken so long. And they also feel that, down in London - of course they think of London as very far away and very detached from their lives here - that people there who want to stay in the European Union will use any reason to do so. And this is what Sue said when I asked her that very question.

LAM: Well, I think if they agreed, you know, totally with what Boris is doing, they - wholeheartedly - they'd think it was a marvelous idea.

KELLY: What do voters like Sue Lam say in respect to all of the economic warnings, that this is going to be catastrophic for Britain if it crashes out without a deal?

LANGFITT: It's really interesting because Sue runs this flower farm. She relies on Eastern European labor. It's already - Brexit has already affected her. She's lost quite a few workers. She doesn't - she thinks she barely has enough right now. She's also held off on investment in a big, new greenhouse. The market is there, but she's just not sure she's going to have the labor.

But your - hear this all over this town, that there was such an influx of Eastern European labor here. And people here in Boston felt it really changed the community. They complained about drinking on the street and also just changing the culture. And so even somebody like Sue - and you hear this from other people here - is they say they're willing to pay an economic price to at least slow and control immigration, even though they know that they're going to lose money because of it.

KELLY: So she would vote the same way if she could redo the 2016 vote.

LANGFITT: She would. I asked her that very question, and even after more than three years, she said absolutely.

KELLY: All right. NPR's Frank Langfitt reporting there from Boston, England. Thanks so much.

LANGFITT: Happy to do it, Mary Louise. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.